It’s bat season again. Higher levels of bat activity increases the possibility of rabies exposure.
“August is the peak month for testing bats for rabies,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “It’s important for people to be careful around bats and other wild animals like skunks, foxes, coyotes and raccoons or domestic stray animals like cats and dogs which are less likely to be vaccinated. These animals could potentially have rabies and transmit it to people.”
Bats eat insects so they are a valuable to us, however they are also a natural reservoir for rabies. Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal or if saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into an open wound or a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Rabies is generally fatal without preventive treatment.
Help prevent the spread of rabies by following these recommendations:
- Be a responsible animal owner. Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets, and other animals you own.
- Seek immediate veterinary assistance for your pet if it’s bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
- Do not touch, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick, wild animals to health. Call an animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to reduce the risk of contact with rabid animals.
- Maintain homes and other buildings so bats and other animals can’t get inside.
- If you wake up and find a bat in your room, you should try to safely capture the bat and have it tested. The same precautions should be used if you see a bat in a room with an unattended child. Do not attempt to capture the bat unless you can do so without putting yourself at risk for physical contact or being bitten. This can be done by covering the bat with a large can or bucket, and close the door to the room.
Call Public Health Solutions at 402 826 3880, if you have questions or concerns relative to wild animal exposure
Public Health Solutions is now accepting reports of dead birds. We are interested in the corvid species, which includes crows and bluejays (see pictures below). In partnership with DHHS, local health departments begin surveillance of the bird population on June 1st, as part of a comprehensive West Nile virus program. Mosquitoes acquire the virus from infected birds and pass it on to other birds, animals and people. Humans CANNOT acquire West Nile virus directly from birds. If you see a dead corvid species bird that appears freshly dead (body intact, no insect infestation or sunken eyes), please call us immediately. If we determine that the bird is suitable for testing, we will give you further instructions and come out to pick up the bird. To report a dead bird, call Public Health Solutions at 402-826-3880 or toll free at 1-844-830-0813.
Examples of corvids: