Rabies warning in Florida county after bat tests positive

A bat in Marion County has tested positive for rabies according to the Florida Department of Health (DOH). 

The agency said they want residents of northern Marion County to be aware of the positive test as it indicates rabies is active in the area. 

Those who live or work in the Citra area, especially residents who live north of Northwest 165th Street, south of Orange Lake, east of U.S. 441, and west of U.S. 301 should pay close attention, the Marion DOH said. 

The county health department encourages those who have encountered a bat infestation to take precautions. Residents who own livestock are urged by the DOH to get their animals vaccinated for rabies. 

Here are some tips below shared by the Florida Health Department regarding rabies.

What to do if you think you are at risk for rabies

  • Anyone bitten or scratched by an animal, wild or domestic that is unfamiliar to them should seek medical attention immediately as well as report the injury to local law enforcement or animal services.
  • If your pet or livestock is bitten by a wild animal, seek immediate help from a veterinarian and contact the Animal Services Department.
  • DOH-Marion recommends that anyone who believes they are at risk from a potential rabies exposure obtain post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, treatment ( PEP is the series of shots administered to build up the patient’s immunity to rabies. PEP is recommended when the animal tests positive for rabies, or when testing the animal is not possible because it could not be found for observation or testing).

Tips on how to prevent contracting a rabies infection

  • Avoid all contact with wild animals
  • Never feed wild or stray animals, even by providing food sources outdoors.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Supervise pets and do not allow them to roam free. Secure livestock on your property.
  • Never handle unfamiliar animals (wild or domestic), even if they appear friendly.
  • Vaccinate all pets and livestock
  • Realize that rabies is not transmitted only through bites. People or animals can contract rabies through scratches or exposure to an infected animal's saliva, such as from licks or a pet that has shared a food source with a positive carrier.
  • If inspecting livestock that has been attacked by wildlife, be sure to wear gloves to examine animals.