Rabid bat found clinging to woman's arm in Sun City Center

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A small bat found clinging to a woman’s arm turned out to have rabies.

The woman was helping a friend into a vehicle in a parking lot around the 400 block of Upper Creek Drive in Sun City Center Monday when she felt something hit her on the arm.

Officials with the state health department in Hillsborough County said the woman didn’t see what it was until she arrived home to find a small bat stuck to her arm.

She squished it with a towel.

The health department was notified and tested the bat for rabies. They said the results came back positive and the woman is being treated.

"Bats are very small and their teeth are very small," said Courtney Lemay, rabies coordination for the Hillsborough County Health Department." You can be bitten or scratched by a bat and possibly not even know it." 

They said they will be notifying homes and businesses within a 500-foot radius from where the bat was found. Anyone who believes they could have been exposed should contact the Department of Health in Hillsborough County at (813) 307-8000 or (813) 744-5660.

So far in 2018, there have been seven cases of rabid animals in Hillsborough County: four cats, two bats and one raccoon. It led to the exposure of 15 people and four domestic dogs. 

The Department of Health said rabies exposure is unusual, but offered the following tips:

- Keep rabies vaccinations up to date for all pets.

- If your pet is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center at (813) 744-5660.

- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.

- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.

- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other similar areas, where they might come in contact with people and pets.

- Persons who have been bitten or scratched by wild or domestic animals should seek medical attention and report the injury to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County at (813) 307-8059.