Bat tests positive for rabies in Shawnee County after dog pulls it out of tree

File Photo of rabid bat in a bag.
File Photo of rabid bat in a bag.(Source: WAVE 3 News)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:54 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A bat that was sent for testing has come back positive for rabies in Shawnee County, officials announced Wednesday morning.

As a result, the Shawnee County Health Department is encouraging area residents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of rabies and the steps to take if exposure is suspected.

Craig Barnes, of the Shawnee County Health Department, said the bat that tested positive for rabies had been pulled out of a tree by a dog.

Barnes said no precautionary measures are being taken at this time, aside from a 50-day observation-monitoring period for the dog that found the bat.

Barnes said that “no human contact is believed to have occurred.”

In a news release, Barnes said rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that typically is transmitted by raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes.

The first symptoms of rabies include general weakness or discomfort and fever or headache.

The symptoms may last for days, Barnes said.

Discomfort or itching of the bite site -- progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion and agitation -- may develop, Barnes said.

Progression of the disease may result in delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations and insomnia. Once a person begins to exhibit signs of disease, Barnes said, survival is rare.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has provided the following tips to help prevent rabies:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate all dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and valuable breeding stock and show animals -- such as cattle and sheep -- against rabies.
  • If bitten by an animal, seek medical attention and report the bite to your local public health department or animal control department immediately.
  • If your animal is bitten, contact your veterinarian or local health department for advice.
  • If you wake up in a room with a bat present, even if there is no evidence of a bite or scratch, seek medical attention.
  • Do not handle or feed wild animals. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Do not try to nurse sick wild animals back to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.

Rabies vaccination is a four-shot series over a 14-day period, Barnes said.

The first shot must be administered through a primary care office or emergency room, which is known as “day zero.”

The remainder of the series may be obtained at the Shawnee County Health Department’s immunization department at 2115 S.W. 10th Ave.

Shots are received on “day zero,” and also on the third day, seventh day and 14th day.

For additional information, call Shawnee County’s immunization department at 785-251-5700.

For more details on rabies, visit these links on exposure and prevention from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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