Fort Wayne, IN – Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control wants to remind residents of precautions to take around bats to prevent possible exposure to rabies.
Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. The virus is carried in the saliva of infected animals and is usually transmitted to people and other animals when they are bitten or scratched by the rabid animal.
Bats transmit the most human cases of rabies in Indiana. While it is still a low percentage of bats that do carry rabies, a bat that is active during the day, is unable to fly, or is found in a place where bats are not usually seen -- such as a room in your home -- is more likely to be rabid.
Bats present an additional concern because they have small, sharp teeth which may not leave a visible mark. Persons exposed to bats are often given the rabies vaccine as a precaution, especially if the bat is found in a room with a young child, a sleeping person, an intoxicated or mentally-impaired person.
In many cases, however, the expensive treatment is unnecessary if the bat can be safely captured alive and found to be rabies-free.
If a bat is found inside your home, do not kill it or set it free if there is a chance it may have come in contact with a person or pet. Instead, residents are urged to contain the bat and contact Animal Care & Control immediately so the bat can be tested for rabies.
To safely capture a bat indoors:
- close the windows, room and closet doors
- turn on lights
- wait for the bat to land
- wearing long sleeves and heavy gloves, cover the bat with a pail, coffee can or similar container
- NEVER touch a bat with your bare hands
- call your local animal control office
If you spot a grounded bat outdoors, you can prevent further contact with people and pets by covering it with a pail or similar container and then calling Animal Care & Control.
Protect your pets by making sure they are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. As a precaution, never handle wild animals.
If an exposure does occur, immediately wash the wound with soap and water and then seek medical attention. Call Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control at (260) 427-1244 or ask your healthcare provider or the emergency room staff to fax a completed bite report form to (260) 427-5514.
More information can be found at www.allencountyhealth.com or by calling (260) 427-1244.