Bat in St. Joseph County tests positive for rabies

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- A bat in St. Joseph County recently tested positive for rabies, according to the Indiana Board of Animal Health. The state urges residents to be cautious but says there is no reason for alarm.

Dr. Sandra Norman, a veterinarian with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, recommends the following guidelines to reduce the risk of rabies exposure to people and animals:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals (not just bats) at all times. It is especially important for people NOT to handle bats that are found in the house or on the street.  Bats are the species most common found positive for rabies.
  • Do not feed or handle wild animals, and secure any trash and pet food in animal-proof containers. Cover attic and chimney openings and other entry points in the home which may invite unwanted visitors.
  • Wild animals are generally active at night and avoid contact with people. Daytime contact with humans is unusual, and should be viewed suspiciously.
  • Indiana law requires all dogs, cats and ferrets 3 months of age or older be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed, accredited veterinarian. Pets should be kept close to home, as free-roaming animals are at higher risk of exposure to the disease.
  • If your pet is bitten or attacked by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian and local animal control. Your pet will need a booster if the animal is determined to be rabid.
  • If you or someone in your family is bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal or a pet, attempt to confine or kill the animal or determine the owner of the pet (if this can be done without risk of further injury). Wear leather or latex gloves when handling all animals with possible exposure (dead or alive).
  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Call your physician at once to determine treatment and make sure the bite is reported to the local department of health and animal control.
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