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Eighth case of rabies confirmed in Polk County after bat tests positive

Animal control confirmed the case after a bat was found in a family's yard.
Credit: AP
This Feb. 8, 2017, photo shows a northern long-eared bat, at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, in Cleveland.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Animal control workers with the Polk County Sheriff's Office confirmed an eighth case of rabies in the county since the beginning of 2019.

The sheriff's office responded after a family reported finding a bat in their yard Sunday. Animal control took over the case and sent the bat to be tested for rabies. 

The bat tested positive for rabies Tuesday, making it the eighth confirmed case in Polk this year. The most recent case was found in a bat that was discovered in a dog kennel.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd gave the following statement: 

“Please call Polk County Animal Control immediately if you find a diseased or injured animal such as a bat, fox, or raccoon, in your neighborhood. Do not interact with it. Luckily it doesn't appear this family actually touched this diseased bat, but they are in contact with the Department of Health due to their exposure, as a precaution.” 

Rabies affects the nervous system and can be fatal. Unlike the depiction of rabies in movies and TV, animals with rabies may not act violently, according to the Florida Department of Health in Polk County. They will act unusually, which means a wild animal that acts tame could be infected.

Any people or pets exposed to wild animals acting usually should report the encounters to local health officials and health care providers.

The Polk County Health Department can be reached at (863) 519-8300.

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