GALLIPOLIS, Ohio – A bat has tested positive for rabies according the Gallia County Health Department.

The Gallia County Health Department received a bat specimen on July 3, 2019. The bat was collected by the owner of a feline that brought the bat to the porch. The location of the bat was Raccoon Road located in Clay Township. The bat tested positive for the rabies virus. The three felines involved in the exposure were vaccinated for the rabies virus prior to the event and will receive booster shots.

This situation is a reminder that bats in Ohio can carry the rabies virus and contact with them should be avoided. Rabies is a fatal illness that is transmitted though bites and saliva from infected animals. Bats are a particular concern because their teeth are so tiny that a bite may not be felt or even leave a noticeable mark. If a person has any physical contact with a bat or finds a bat in the room of a sleeping person or unattended child, the bat should be captured safely and submitted for rabies testing. If the bat is not available for rabies testing, the person who came in contact with the animal should receive rabies prevention shots.
If someone has been bitten or exposed to a bat, it is very important to test that bat for rabies. If this is not possible, contact your Primary Care Physician for further advice and post exposure vaccinations. 

According to the Center for Disease Control website, “Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. However, in many other countries dogs still carry rabies, and most rabies deaths in people around the world are caused by dog bites. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.”

Anyone who has concerns about an animal bite or an encounter with a wild animal should contact their health care provider promptly.

To learn more about rabies and how to protect yourself, please visit the Ohio Department of Health website for Zoonotic Diseases, Rabies & Animal Bites.  The Gallia County Health Department also reminds pet owners of the importance of ensuring that dogs and cats are current on their rabies vaccinations. Contact your Veterinarian for further advice and vaccinations.