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Bats with Rabies

May 23rd, 2018

Warm summer nights are filled with many magical qualities including cookouts, late night campfires, evening swims and chasing fireflies. If you’re observant enough you can also spot bats emerging around dusk to eat up all of the pesky insects that would otherwise ruin an enjoyable evening outdoors. As a general rule bats are very beneficial in controlling insects. Watching their fluttering dance through the sky is somewhat magical until you see them emerging from your home or other structure on your property. Even more unsettling is finding a bat flying within your home. Occasionally a bat will enter a home through an open window or door, however, more often than not finding a bat within a home is indication that that its roost is in close proximity or even within the structure. If you encounter a situation such as this, don’t hesitate to contact Tri State Wildlife, 859-635-0037, to help evaluate your situation and prevent contact with bats with rabies.

The greatest risk associated with bats in someones home is exposure to the rabies virus. Just this week a bat found in a Lexington home tested positive for the rabies virus. The health department quickly took action and posted signs in the neighborhood alerting residence to the discovery of bats with rabies, but also reminding residence to keep an eye on their pets and to have them up to date on their rabies vaccine.

Rabies from bats is the most known source of human infection within the United States accounting for approximately 90% of rabies fatalities in recent years. 5-10% of Bats tested in the Northern Kentucky Cincinnati area have tested positive for rabies in recent years. Due to the fact that bats have tiny teeth and bat bites may be undetectable it is important to have any bat found in the room of a sleeping person, an unattended child or someone who is mentally impaired tested for the rabies virus. When dealing with such a situation it is best to contact someone trained in handling such situations, such as a nuisance wildlife control technician at Tri State Wildlife to locate and capture the bat. You should then contact your local health department to make arrangements for testing.

In the case that someone has been bitten, scratched or exposed to an animal’s saliva, the Northern Kentucky Health Department recommends the following:
-Wash the wound right away with soap and water for 10 minutes.
-Call your health care provider or go to a hospital emergency room depending on the severity of the wound. If you seek medical care, the health care provider treating your injury is required to report the bite to the Health Department.
-If possible, confine the bat so it can be quarantined or tested.
-Contact a trained nuisance wildlife professional to capture the bat .
-If you did not seek medical care, contact the Health Department at 859-341-4151 as soon as possible so steps can be taken to quarantine the animal or submit it for testing if warranted.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services “Current post-exposure prophylaxis is nearly 100 percent successful in preventing rabies in humans. Most fatalities from rabies occur when people fail to seek prompt medical assistance or are unaware of the exposure, as with some of the cases associated with bat rabies.”

In addition to seeking help when a bat is found within the living space of a home, it is imperative to avoid contact with all bats especially those found in unusual places or during day light hours. Both of these situations are indicators of a sick bat. Just this past January a young boy in Florida past away from the rabies virus after being scratched by a sick bat and not seeking appropriate medical attention until symptoms developed.

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