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Rabies is a concern after bats are found in a Naples gym

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Bats are a primary carrier of the rabies cirus, and while this is not one of the bats found in Naples Family Fitness last week, health authorities are concerned patrons or staff of the gym may have come in contact with bats that got into the facility .

Bats were discovered inside Naples Family Fitness last week and health authorities are asking anyone who may have been exposed to the creatures to get tested for rabies.

The Florida Department of Health discovered bats inside the gym on Jan. 3 and are worried patrons or staff may have held or been in contact with the creatures. Bats, along with raccoons, are the animals in Florida most likely to carry rabies, a virus that can cause an illness in people that is nearly always fatal if not treated.

Rabies is usually spread from a bat or raccoon to a person through a bite. Bats were found inside the gym on Monday, Jan. 3.

The virus can also take a more circuitous route, passing from wildlife to domestic cats and dogs. Rabies can then pose a “high risk” to family members, the health department said.

WGCU reached out to Naples Family Fitness for comment, but messages left by telephone and email were not returned. The gym is at 2349 Vanderbilt Beach Road in Naples.

“If you believe you may have been exposed to rabies, contact your health care provider and your county health department right away,” a health department statement said. “If an exposure occurred, there is effective treatment that can prevent infections in people if administered in a timely manner.”

The health department can be reached at (239) 252-8226 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or (239) 293-3010 after hours. For more information on rabies, click here.
Reporting on the environment for WGCU is funded in part by the Volo Foundation.