Health officials warn of bats’ return to central Florida

Local health officials are warning Orange County residents to be mindful of the return of bats.

With the arrival of springtime in Florida, bats will become active and seek locations inside homes and buildings, according to the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

Residents are advised to never handle bats and to make sure that all pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccine.

Use screens in all open windows and secure any openings to attics/roofs that might be easily compromised. From April 15 to August 15, bats are not to be disturbed during maternity season.

It is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, but they can be legally excluded from a building or structure by following effective, recommended practices that protect bats and people.

For exclusions of bat colonies, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation at 352-732-1225.

Health officials say bats pose virtually no danger to people who do not handle them, despite a small percentage carrying rabies.

If a bat is spotted during daylight hours, it is most likely unhealthy and should be avoided. If you or anyone you know has been bitten or scratched by a bat, seek medical attention and contact Orange County Animal Services at (407) 254-9150.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system that can cause paralysis and is fatal to warm blooded animals and humans. The virus is spread through saliva, and humans may become infected through a bite wound, scratch or exposure of a fresh cut to saliva of a rabid animal. The only treatment for human exposure to rabies is rabies specific immune globulin and rabies immunization. For more information on rabies, visit the Florida Department of Health Rabies Information webpage.

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