Florida Woman Finds Rabid Bat Clinging to Her Arm

A Florida woman was surprised to find a small bat latched on to her arm while she was at home using the bathroom on Monday.

The woman from Sun City Center was helping a friend into a car in a parking lot earlier in the day when she felt something strike her arm, but didn't know what it was until she got home, according to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.

When she noticed the animal clinging to her body, the woman immediately squished the bat with a towel, Kevin Watler, agency spokesman, said in a news release issued to The Tampa Bay Times.

Watler said the health department was contacted and a test showed that the bat was positive for rabies, a virus that infects the central nervous system and can lead to deadly illness in humans and other mammals.

Early signs of rabies in people are mild, and include fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, the virus can ultimately cause disease in the brain and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Human rabies cases in the U.S. are unusual. Only one to three cases are reported every year. Over the past decade, just 23 cases of human rabies have been documented, with eight of these contracted outside the U.S. and its territories, the CDC reported.

The woman received medical care after the incident and is not expected to get sick, the agency said.

Bats and raccoons are the primary source of human rabies cases in the state, but this case is especially odd, Watler said.

"Usually you don't have a bat clinging to someone's arm," he explained. "Usually when you have an exposure, it's someone messing with an animal or feeding an animal out in the wild. We usually don't have a bat clinging to someone's arm out in a parking lot. That's not something that's typical."

Local health department officials believe that this was an isolated incident, WFLA-TV reported.

0720-bat
A brown bat in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1966. A Florida woman found a small bat clinging to her arm on Monday. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Florida Woman Finds Rabid Bat Clinging to Her Arm | Tech & Science