Florida resident dies of rabies from bat bite, health official says

Florida health officials announced that a resident has died as a result of rabies after being bitten by a bat. Officials declined to say when the bite occurred and did not identify the victim, but said the resident lived in Highlands County and did not seek treatment, News 6 reported.

“It is important to avoid direct contact with wildlife,” Mara Gambineri, a Florida Health Department spokeswoman, told News 6. “If you believe you may have been exposed to rabies, including any physical contact with a bat, contact your health care provider and your county health department right away.”

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Gambineri added that untreated rabies can cause nearly a 100 percent fatal illness in humans, and that the viruses poses a great risk for unvaccinated pets. According to the report, raccoons and bats are the main wildlife sources of rabies in Florida, while outside cats are the most common domestic animals to carry the virus.