Bat in Beloit tests positive for rabies

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Andrea Behling
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BELOIT—A bat found in Beloit has tested positive for rabies, a fatal disease to humans and some mammals, according to the Rock County Health Department.

Residents in the southeast area of Beloit aren't sure if their dog carried the diseased bat into the house or if it was on the dog when they brought the pet inside, Rock County Health Department Sanitarian Janice Baumann said.

The dog was current on its rabies vaccinations, which means the dog only is required to be in quarantine for two months, Baumann said.

“I congratulated the owners because if they wouldn't have been up to date, (the dog) would have to be quarantined for six months,” Baumann said.

It's been almost exactly a year from when the last rabid bat was found in Rock County in August 2013, Public Heath Officer Karen Cain said.

“Typically, we have one bat test positive for rabies every year,” Cain said.

Rabies is a preventable, viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

August is a typical time to see bats testing positive for rabies, Baumann said.

During this time, adolescent bats are testing their wings, making them more likely to make contact with people or animals and spread the disease, Baumann said.

Bats transmit the most human cases of rabies in the United States, according to the health department release.

The Rock County Health Department was notified of 378 incidents of animals biting humans in 2013. Of those incidents, 76 animals did not have rabies vaccinations. Samples from those animals were sent to the State Lab of Hygiene.

The health department issued a news release Wednesday about the rabid bat found in Beloit.

Cain said the positive test makes for a good time to remind the public to get their animals vaccinated. Dogs, cats and ferrets are pets that can be infected by rabies, she said.

The department has offered low-cost vaccination clinics for people who can't afford the cost of rabies vaccinations, Cain said.

The last low-cost clinic was held in April, and the department plans to offer the clinics on an annual basis.

It's important to “bat proof” your house, according to the department. Bats can enter through small openings in screens or in any hole larger than a quarter-inch by half-inch, according to the department.

The health department urges parents to teach their children to never handle bats or other wild animals, be wary of animals acting out of character and wash any wound from an animal with soap and water.

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