Bat in Wise County found to have rabies - WRBL

Bat in Wise County found to have rabies

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From the Wise County Health Department

 WISE, VA - The Wise County Health Department has identified a bat, collected near the Town of Pound, as positive for rabies. The bat was collected at a private home earlier this month by the Wise County Health Department and tested by the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services.

Rabid bats have previously been identified in the Lenowisco Health District, and rabies is a real threat in our area. Here are some simple measures you can take to avoid potential exposure to rabies:

• Vaccinate pets and livestock and keep vaccines current. This includes "inside only pets" as they may encounter wildlife such as bats without the knowledge of the owner.

• Do not feed or try to handle wild or stray animals.

• Avoid all sick or strange-acting animals.

• Cover garbage cans and do not leave pet food outside.

• Do not keep wild animals as pets. It is dangerous and illegal.

• Do not touch or pick up dead animals.

• Leave live bats alone and do not handle dead bats.

• Do not let your pet play with bats.

• "Bat proof" your house or other buildings with screens and cover up openings.

• Call your doctor for advice if an animal bites you or call your vet if your pet is bitten and report any such incidents to your local health department.

Prevention is the key, and avoiding exposure to rabies is the best defense against this deadly virus. If someone is exposed to rabies, beginning treatment immediately - before symptoms appear - is very effective in preventing rabies. Once symptoms develop, the infection is almost always fatal.

It is critical to report immediately to the health department any exposure to saliva, brain or spinal tissue from a domestic or wild mammal, since the rabies virus is found in these fluids and tissues. Bats have sharp teeth and people may not even notice being bitten, so simply finding a bat in a room with an infant or child also is considered a possible exposure. The same is true when bats are found with adults who are sleeping, unconscious or impaired, or unable to communicate well.

The health department may recommend post-exposure treatment for animals or people, and/or quarantine for animals, depending on the circumstances of the encounter. Domestic dogs, cats or ferrets may be confined; stray animals may be captured for observation. Domestic animals that die during confinement should be reported to the health department immediately for possible testing.

Do not euthanize animals by shooting them in the head because it renders the animal unsuitable for testing.

For more information, call the Lenowisco Health District at 276-328-8000, or visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/Rabies. 

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