Health department looks for visitors that encountered diseased bat at Dinosaur National Monument

May 31, 2023, 8:19 PM | Updated: Jun 1, 2023, 6:13 am

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VERNAL, UtahThe TriCounty Health Department is looking for any visitors that encountered a diseased bat while at Dinosaur National Monument on or around May 28.

Health officials were recently made aware of a bat that was acting strangely that visitors encountered on that date. The bat’s behavior may be a sign that the bat was carrying the rabies virus.

“Visitors who have had physical contact with a bat should clean the area with soap and water immediately and seek medical attention for post-exposure medication as soon as possible and notify the National Parks Service Office of Public Health (publichealthprogram@nps.gov) of the encounter,” officials said.

Bats are the number one carrier for rabies within Utah. While the majority of bats don’t carry the virus, bats displaying unusual behavior are 10 times more likely to be carrying the rabies virus.

Only 1% of bats in nature have rabies.

Rabies is typically preventable in humans with proper medications administered shortly after exposure. However, if untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.

Rabies is spread through the saliva, bite, scratch or mucus of an infected animal.

“A bat exposure could be caused by a minuscule scratch that is not easily noticeable, therefore any physical contact with a wild bat should be considered as a potential rabies exposure,” the TCHD said.

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Health department looks for visitors that encountered diseased bat at Dinosaur National Monument