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Feb 22, 2024

Polk County has first confirmed case of rabies in 2024

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

This year’s first case of rabies in Polk County has been confirmed.

A Brazilian Free-tailed bat that was found in a north Lakeland business on February 17th and subsequently reported to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Section was sent to the state laboratory in Tampa for rabies testing. 

On Wednesday, February 21, 2024, the lab notified Animal Control that the bat was infected with the deadly viral disease.

“Make sure your pets are vaccinated, and always use caution when confronted by animals that appear sick, aggressive, or in distress. If you should encounter an animal that you believe could be infected by rabies, contact Animal Control immediately, and do not attempt to handle the animal yourself.” Grady Judd, Sheriff

Polk County only had three known cases of rabies in 2023.