Florida Department of Health in Leon County officials have issued a rabies alert after receiving information that several students may have handled bats on the campus of Lawton Chiles High School during the week of February 16 – 20. People who had direct contact with a bat should be evaluated by the Health Department to determine if medications are needed for possible exposure to rabies.
Although rabies exposure is an urgent situation, it generally isn’t an emergency, according to health officials. There is no need to rush to the emergency room or to your doctor’s office. It usually takes weeks after an exposure for rabies to make a person ill, so we have time to carefully evaluate who does and who doesn’t need preventive treatment.
You may need treatment if you had direct contact with a bat, which includes if you handled a bat with your bare hands or skin, a bat landed on you or you were bitten or scratched by a bat.
If you had direct contact with a bat, please call the Health Department at 850-606-8131. This special number will be available for reporting contact with bats for one week. We will be available at this number from Monday through Friday, February 22-26, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This weekend’s hours (February 20 -21) will be 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please don’t delay reporting possible exposure to us.
- Avoid direct human and domestic animal contact with wild animals.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate pets and at-risk livestock, make sure you follow your veterinarian’s instructions for revaccination.
- Do not allow your pets to run free. Follow leash laws by keeping pets and livestock secured on your property.
- Never feed wild or stray animals-avoid attracting them with outdoors food sources. Feed your pets indoors.
- If your animal is attacked by a wild, stray or unvaccinated animal, DO NOT examine your pet for injuries without wearing gloves. DO wash your pet with soap and water to remove saliva from the attacking animal. DO NOT let your animal come into contact with other animals or people until the situation can be handled by animal control or county health department staff.
- Educate the public to reduce contact with stray and feral animals.
- Support animal control in efforts to reduce feral and stray animal populations.
- Provide pre-exposure prophylaxis for people in high-risk professions, such as animal control and veterinary personnel, laboratory workers, and those working with wildlife.
- Bat-proof homes.