Rabid bat highlights rabies concerns

Published 2:18 pm Sunday, June 3, 2018

Following up on reports from a concerned citizen, the Minnesota Department of Health has successfully identified a woman who handled a rabid bat near the pavilion at Como Lake in St. Paul last week and she is receiving medical attention.

The situation is a reminder that bats in Minnesota can carry rabies and contact with them should be avoided. Rabies is a fatal illness that is transmitted through bites from infected animals. Bats are of particular concern because their teeth are so tiny that a bite may not be felt or even leave a noticeable mark. If a person has any physical contact with a bat or finds a bat in the room of a sleeping person or unattended child, the bat should be captured safely and submitted for rabies testing. If the bat is not available for rabies testing, the person who came into contact with the animal should receive rabies prevention shots.

“If someone has been bitten or exposed to a bat, it is very important to test the bat for rabies,” said Dr. Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian. “If this is not possible, rabies prevention shots should be given as soon as possible.”

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Anyone who has concerns about an animal bite or an encounter with a wild animal should contact their health care provider promptly. To learn more about rabies and how to protect yourself, please visit the MDH website at Rabies. The site includes instructions on how to capture a bat safely for testing.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health also reminds pet owners of the importance of ensuring that dogs and cats are current on their rabies vaccinations. For more information, visit the BAH website.