St. Petersburg, Florida -- Pinellas County health officials say children may have been exposed to the rabies virus over the weekend.
Investigators say on November 12, children at the Meadows Apartments located at 785 117th Terrace North in St. Petersburg came into direct contact with a live bat.
The bat could not be located in order to test for the presence of the virus. Because the health department cannot rule out that the bat was a rabies carrier, the children are being treated as if they had been exposed. A person does not necessarily have to be bitten by the animal in order to contract rabies.
There is a vaccine that can prevent infection after exposure. The Pinellas County Health Department is available to assist parents whose children handled the bat.
Bats are the most common carriers of the rabies virus in the United States. Symptoms can take up to several weeks to appear and, once they do, the illness is irreversible. Rabies is a serious disease in humans that nearly always results in death.
Parents who think their children may have been exposed are asked to call the health department immediately at (727) 824-6932 even if their child does not have any symptoms. Health department staff can discuss the child's individual risk in detail.
10 News and the Pinellas Health Department