skip to content

It's a New Day in Public Health.

The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

skip to content

Bats and Rabies

By Kent Donahue

June 05, 2018

During this time of year, bats are active and seek locations inside homes and buildings.  The Florida Department of Health in Orange County wants to remind residents that any bat can have rabies, a deadly disease.  Take these simple steps to protect yourself and your family:

  • Never handle bats AND be sure that your kids understand the importance of this
  • Make sure your pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccine
  • Use screens in all open windows
  • Secure any openings to your attic/roof

Bats play an important role in the ecosystem, especially in controlling insects and aiding agriculture. They pose virtually no danger to people who do not handle them, however, a small percentage can carry rabies. If you find a bat during daylight hours, it is most likely unhealthy and should be avoided.

If you or a family member has been bitten or scratched by a bat, you should seek medical attention and contact Orange County Animal Services at (407) 254-9150. 

If you find a dead bat on your property and you are certain no human or pet contact has occurred, please take extra precaution when disposing of the bat.

  • Wear heavy gloves, or preferably scoop up the dead bat with a shovel while wearing disposable gloves
  • Burry the bat at a depth of at least 1 ft. under the surface or dispose of it in the garbage receptacle
  • If you place it in the garbage, please consider the safety of others and ensure that no accidental contact will be made with the dead bat, by double bagging it in plastic garbage bags
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and dispose of the gloves

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.  Appropriate treatment which is started soon after the exposure will protect an exposed person from the disease. 

For more information on rabies, visit the DOH website at doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/rabies/rabies-index.html or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.