HEALTH

Utah confirms first rabid bat of the season, how to avoid rabies

May 30, 2024, 8:30 PM | Updated: May 31, 2024, 4:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah public health officials have reported that a bat found earlier this month has tested positive for rabies, according to a release from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

The release states that only a small number of bats actually carry rabies, but their impact on human and animal nervous systems can be lethal. Once the disease develops, it is almost always fatal.

Health officials say the best way to avoid rabies is to avoid contact with all wild animals, but specifically bats, as they are the primary carrier of rabies in Utah.

The disease can be transmitted through an infected animal’s bite, scratch, or saliva.

Officials say due to the bat’s small size, a bite or scratch from the animal may not be felt or leave a mark. Someone who’s been around bats may not be aware of the exposure and should be considered at risk, according to the release.

The release advises that if you find yourself near a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it. Instead, call your local animal control office to collect the bat, and your local public health department immediately to determine if testing the bat for rabies is necessary.

Rabies preventive treatment is potentially life-saving and may be necessary.

“Signs of rabies in animals can include obvious changes in normal behavior, such as aggression, foaming at the mouth, no interest in food or water, staggering, or paralysis. You cannot tell if an animal is rabid just by looking at it, so be sure to report if a human or pet has direct contact with an unfamiliar animal,” the release stated.

Only a laboratory test after an animal’s death can determine if it has rabies, so it’s important that people and pets are up to date on vaccines.

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services provided a list of tips to help Utahn’s avoid the disease.

Reduce rabies risk

  • Make sure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations
  • Keep your pets inside and supervise them when outside. This will help keep your pets from coming in contact with wild animals.
  • Call your local animal control officials to report stray dogs and cats.
  • Stay away from wild animals. If you have children, make sure they understand not to approach or pick up wildlife. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to animal control.
  • Keep bats out of your home. Seal any cracks and gaps where bats can get into your home. If you know you have bats in your home, work with a local expert to find ways to keep bats out or contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Services.
  • Consider the rabies pre-exposure vaccine if you’re traveling to a country where rabies is common. Ask your healthcare provider or a travel clinic whether you should receive the rabies vaccine.
  • Take action if you are bitten or scratched. If you are bitten or scratched by any animal (domestic or wild), immediately wash the wound with soap and water and see a healthcare provider. Contact animal control to help capture the animal for observation or rabies testing.
  • You can also use this online tool to determine what you should do after a potential exposure.

Click here for more information.

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Utah confirms first rabid bat of the season, how to avoid rabies