Monday, August 22, 2011

Bat (Not Batman) Alert

Prompted by recent incidents in which people or pets were potentially exposed to rabid bats, the Allegheny County Health Department is urging residents to report all bats found in the home because of the risk of rabies.

It’s especially important to report bats found in areas where people sleep, even when you’re not sure whether you’ve been bitten and exposed to their saliva, because bat bites can be so tiny they may leave no marks visible to the naked eye and so painless they may not even be felt by someone while sleeping.

Bat encounters should be reported to the Health Department immediately by calling 412-687-ACHD. Health officials will evaluate the risk and test the bat to determine if it’s rabid and anyone should be treated with anti-rabies vaccine.

When a bat is found, wear a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves and place a container such as a large bowl or empty coffee can over it, slide a piece of cardboard underneath to trap the bat inside, cover the container with a lid or cap, and then submit the bat to the Health Department for testing.

In two separate incidents recently involving rabid bats, a woman and a cat were potentially exposed but not infected. As a precaution, the woman was treated with anti-rabies vaccine and the cat given a booster shot and quarantined for three months.

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