For Immediate Release
Residents Urged Not to Handle Bats
In response to two cases of rabies exposure transmitted from the bite of a rabid bat this week, and reports of children playing with bats, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department reminds area residents not to handle bats.
Rabies is caused by a virus spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually because of a bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that tens of thousands of people are successfully treated each year after being bitten by an animal that may have rabies, and it adds that a few people die every year because they don’t seek treatment. Rabies is 100% preventable – by ensuring pets are vaccinated and by avoiding contact with wild animals.
Although a person will most likely know when they have been bitten by a bat, there are some situations in which they should contact their health care provider, even if they don’t see or feel a bite wound:
- If a sleeping person wakes up and finds a bat in the room.
- If a person finds a bat in a room with an unattended child.
- If a person sees a bat near a person with disabilities.
- If a person sees a bat near a person who is intoxicated.
A bat that is active during the day, is found somewhere bats are typically not found or is unable to fly, is more likely to have rabies than a bat acting typically. Anyone who is bitten by a bat or gets bat saliva in their eyes, nose, mouth or a wound should contact their health care provider immediately and wash the bite site with soap and water for at least five minutes.
Whenever possible to do so safely, the bat should also be captured so that it can be tested for rabies. To safely capture a bat—
- Put on leather work gloves.
- Wait until the bat lands, and then place a small box or coffee can over it.
- Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.
- Tape the cardboard securely to the container and punch small holes in the cardboard to allow the bat to breathe.
- Contact your local public health department to arrange for the bat to be tested for rabies.
In addition to bats, rabies is most commonly spread by skunks and raccoons, but rabies can infect any wild animal, as well as dogs, cats and ferrets. Anyone bitten by an animal should seek medical attention.
For more information, contact:
Jaci McReynolds, Public Information Administrator (417) 874-1205 office • (417) 830-9511 cell