In what is a very rare occurrence in the United States, a resident from Highlands County, Florida has died from rabies likely following a bat bite, according to local media accounts.

Brown Bat
Myotis lucifugus, or Little Brown Bat/CDC

The Florida Department of Health says the bite victim did not seek treatment/undergo post-exposure treatment protocols.

“It is important to avoid direct contact with wildlife,” said Mara Gambineri, spokeswoman of the Florida Health Department. “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.”

Gambineri said it is important for bite victims to receive treatment as quickly as possible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the 1990’s. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful.

LISTEN: Everything you wanted to know about rabies


Rabies: What You Need to Know