Published Date: 2009-06-24 17:00:10
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies, bat, human exposure - USA: (FL)
Archive Number: 20090624.2304
RABIES, BAT, HUMAN EXPOSURE - USA: (FLORIDA)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Mon 22 Jun 2009
Source: News-press.com [edited]
The search continues for 3 boys who played with a rabid bat on Fort
Myers Beach. The health department is looking for help from the
public in locating the boys. If you have information on the boys'
whereabouts, contact the Lee County Health Department at 332-9501.
It's critical that three boys who tossed around a rabid bat on Fort
Myers Beach earlier this week be found. They need to start rabies
shots within 10 days, health officials say. Two other boys who played
with the bat were found Friday afternoon [19 Jun 2009], less than 2
hours after the Lee County Health Department issued an urgent
bulletin. Dr. Judith A. Hartner, director of the health department,
stressed the urgency. "Rabies is a fatal disease," Hartner said.
"There is no known cure for rabies, only vaccination."
The 5 boys -- believed to be between ages 10 and 12 -- were seen
Monday [15 Jun 2009] handling the bat on the Fort Myers Beach Pier.
Two were identified after one of the boys' father saw a news
bulletin. A teenage girl saw the boys with the bat -- a Brazilian
free tail -- retrieved it, and took it to a wildlife sanctuary
Tuesday [16 Jun 2009]. The 2 boys and the girl will begin rabies
vaccinations Monday [22 Jun 2009]. They'll get a series of 6 shots
over 28 days.
They are not being identified because of their ages and medical
treatment, said Jennifer James-Mesloh, spokeswoman for the health
department. "What we don't know is if the other boys were friends or
kids they just met that day," she said. "We're concerned that since
it took place on Fort Myers Beach that they may not be locals. It's
important we start the vaccinations within 10 days of exposure. It's
a very time-sensitive issue."
The families didn't want to comment when asked by James-Mesloh on
Friday [19 Jun 2009] afternoon. The boys were seen by the girl
holding and kissing the bat, according to the Lee County Health
Department. "On Tuesday [16 Jun 2009] morning, a teenage girl and her
friend brought in the bat," said Jennifer Roberts, a spokeswoman for
Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel. The bat was
examined and euthanized by P.J. Deitschel, CROW's lead veterinarian
and clinic director. Because bats are known to carry rabies, it was
sent to the state laboratory in Tampa. Rabies was confirmed. "Bats
have very small teeth," said James-Mesloh, "and (the boys) could have
been bitten by it and not even noticed it." Bats also carry rabies in
their saliva, and if the youngsters handled the bat and then touched
their eyes, nose or mouth, they could also be infected, she said.
James-Mesloh said the health department is working with the Lee
County Sheriff's Office, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, Fort Myers
Beach Chamber and the Visitors & Convention Bureau to find the 3
boys. James-Mesloh said no one should handle a bat without protective
gloves, if at all. She added that if you see a bat during daylight
hours, there's a high probability of it being ill.
If you have any information on how to contact the youths seen
handling a bat, please contact the Lee County Health Department at
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Brent Barrett
[Anyone aware of the identity of the 3 unaccounted for boys should
immediately contact the Lee County Health Department, as the deadline
for implementation of post-exposure prophylaxis is rapidly approaching.
Images and a description of the Brazilian free tailed bat can be
A map of Lee County, Florida is available at:
<http://www.floridacountiesmap.com/lee_county.shtml>, and the
HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Florida can be accessed at: