Rabid Bat May Be Risk To Humans

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Boulder County Public Health is warning residents not to handle any bats, after a bat found near Horizon K-8 School and Admiral Burke Park tested positive for rabies.

BCPH staff is working with the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) to alert parents of the children attending that school, as well as the City of Boulder Parks and Open Space. The area will be posted with warning signs this afternoon.

Bats are the most common animal source of rabies in Colorado. On average, about 15 percent of bats submitted for rabies testing test positive for the disease. Other wild animals that may carry rabies include skunks, raccoons, and foxes.

"It is normal to find a bat hanging under the eaves of a house, under a porch overhang, or hidden behind shutters or gutters," said Joe Malinowski, BCPH Vector Control Program Coordinator. "But, if you see one in the house or on the ground, please be cautious. Because bats are active mostly at night, seeing one during the day is a good indication that something is wrong."

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"People are most commonly exposed when they pick a bat off the ground, try to remove a bat from their house, or take a bat from a family pet," said Malinowski. "It is important that people avoid picking up or handling bats. It is also important that your pets' rabies vaccinations are up-to-date, since pets are often the first to encounter a bat."

Humans can get the disease from the bite or scratch of an animal infected with rabies (a rabid animal). Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is always fatal, unless it is treated before any symptoms appear.

Pets that are exposed to rabid animals and don't have up-to-date vaccinations for rabies are required to be held in an approved quarantine site for 90 days, often costing more than $1,000. If the pet is un-vaccinated, euthanasia may be recommended.

Treatment to rabies exposure in humans involves a series of five injections given in the arm over a 28-day period. Exposure is generally a bite or scratch by an infected animal, and sometimes is almost undetectable, such as a tiny puncture of the skin from a bat.

Public health officials recommend the following precautions be taken to reduce your risk of exposure to rabies:

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