Archive for Monday, May 24, 2010

Rabid bat discovery in county prompts warnings

May 24, 2010

Johnson County public health officials are urging caution after they confirmed a case of a rabid bat over the weekend in the county.

The Johnson County Health Department did not release details of where and when the rabid bat was discovered but instead focused on the dangers of rabies and ways to keep bats out of homes.

Health officials said bat exposures often were difficult to determine. But if bats are found in your home, especially in areas where individuals are sleeping (especially children, the elderly, or those unable to communicate), officials said local animal control officers or professional pest control companies should be contacted to remove the bats and submit them for rabies testing.

Health officials also said individuals whose homes are exposed to bats should talk to their doctor about possibly receiving post-exposure vaccines. They said people should not wait until symptoms of rabies, which is a fatal illness, appear. By the time symptoms develop, it is too late for treatment. There are currently no tests available to diagnose rabies in people prior to the onset of symptoms.

Here are the Health Department’s tips for keeping bats out of your home:

Keeping bats out of your home is easy by following a few simple steps.

• Do not leave unscreened doors or windows open to the outside. Make sure all doors that open to the outside close tightly.

• Make sure doors and windows are screened, chimneys are capped, and electrical and plumbing openings in the structure are plugged.

• Seal openings larger than π inch by ∏ inch square that would allow access into the attic, basement, walls, or living areas of a structure.

• Utilize materials to seal or cover gaps and holes including spray-on expanding foam, wire mesh, netting, caulk, or tight-fitting wood. Steel wool or caulking can be utilized around pipes that enter buildings.

Health officials suggest extreme caution in dealing with all animals, especially unfamiliar ones, to reduce the risk of being bitten.

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