• Smart or just batty? Official wants to use bats to combat mosquitoes in Orange County

    By: Kelly Healey , Ty Russell

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Orange County commissioner is moving forward with a plan to put up 30 bat houses in her district.

     

    Commissioner Emily Bonilla said she hopes it will take a bite out of the mosquito problem.

     

    A National Institutes of Health study said bats can eat hundreds of mosquitoes per hour.

     

    But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said bats are the nation's most common source of human rabies, and there are usually only one or two human rabies cases each year in the United States.

     

    Interactive map: Rabies cases in Central Florida

     

    Mayor Teresa Jacobs is against the plan and said she is not willing to take the risk, be it a low one.

     

    Bonilla wanted the county to partner with her office and the Florida Bat Conservancy.

    The group applied for a $6,000 grant to build bat houses and put them up in Orange County.

                   

    The American Mosquito Control Association said using bats as mosquito control is “foolish.”

     

    Orange County's Health and Public Safety director said a dog tested positive for rabies after bringing a bat into a home last week.

     

    Days before that, another bat was found in a home and it’s being tested.

                   

    In January, a Eustis boy named Ryker Roque died after being scratched by a bat and contracting rabies. 

     

    "I hear numbers of one percent. I can tell you for Ryker, it was one percent too many," Jacobs said.

     

    Read: Eustis boy dies of rabies after bat scratch

     

    "It's hard, especially when a child dies from coming into contact with a bat. However, the chances are really low," Bonilla said.

     

    Bonilla said her office will continue with the project without the help of Orange County.

     

    She said she will not use Orange County taxpayer dollars on bats.

     

    Watch what you need to know about rabies below:

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