Multiple People Exposed To Bats With Rabies In Southern Utah
ST. GEORGE, Utah – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department is warning people to avoid bats after several people were exposed to bats that tested positive for rabies.
Affected individuals were treated with preventative vaccinations and officials said most cases in southwestern Utah occur in bats or animals that have been bitten by bats.
“Rabies vaccine is very effective when given soon enough,” said SWUPHD director and health officer Dr. David Blodgett, “Every year we have people in our district who have to get a series of shots after actual or suspected exposure to rabid animals, mostly bats. If the disease is left untreated and starts to show symptoms, it is nearly always fatal.”
Officials said rabies spreads from the saliva of infected animals and can be deadly. In the U.S., the virus is most commonly seen in bats, coyotes, raccoons and skunks.
Domestic dogs and cats can be infected by the virus but cases are down due to vaccinations programs.
The department listed these steps as ways to avoid rabies infections:
- Back off and don’t touch any wild animal that lets you get close to it or seems sick or aggressive.
- Seek immediate medical care if you’ve been bitten by any animal. If the animal can be contained or captured without further injury to yourself or others, do so. It can then be tested for rabies to determine if you should get the rabies vaccine.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you may have been exposed to an animal suspected of having rabies, even if you’re unsure you were bitten. If you have physical contact with a bat or awaken to find a bat in the room, assume you’ve been bitten. Consultation with a doctor and the health department can determine if vaccinations are a good idea based on your situation.
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies.
- Visit swuhealth.org/rabies for more information and resources.
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