Second bat tests positive for rabies in Rock County

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Gazette staff
Friday, August 23, 2013

JANESVILLE—A bat discovered in a downtown neighborhood in Janesville has tested positive for rabies, according to a news release from the Rock County Health Department.

The bat was brought to a home by two cats Wednesday afternoon, said Karen Cain, a health officer with the Rock County Health Department. The bat was dead when the owner discovered it.

There was no human exposure, and the cats had updated vaccinations, Cain said. They were given a booster dose of the rabies vaccine and are quarantined in their home, where they are required to remain for two months.

This is the second case discovered in Rock County in two weeks. The first was from a bat in the Footville area. No humans were exposed in that case, either, and the dog that discovered the animal has been quarantined.

Rabies is a fatal disease that animals can transfer to humans, usually through a bite or scratch. Rabies can be treated with immediate medical attention.

“We have had rabies in Rock County before, so we always are concerned that there are rabid animals,” Cain said. “We typically have about one positive rabies case each year.”

Raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes can carry rabies, but bats most often are responsible for transferring the disease to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cain advised people to “bat proof” their homes by covering any small cracks or openings that are not doors or windows.

Pet owners should also make sure animal vaccinations are up to date, she said. Pets, especially cats, have more exposure to bats than humans. If an animal has contracted rabies, they usually will have a change in behavior, including not eating or drinking, and might eventually become more vicious. It could take months for signs of rabies to appear in animals.

Anyone who suspects an animal might have rabies should contact the health department immediately, Cain said.

There will be a discounted rabies clinic for low-income families to vaccinate their pets from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at Telfer Park in Beloit, she said.

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