Jefferson County PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE

Public Health Facility, 531 Meade Street, Watertown, New York 13601

PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release Contact: Tricia Barton Phone: 786-3720

Exposure to Bats is on the Rise in Jefferson County– Know What To Do Watertown, NY, August 4, 2011 - Each year, especially during the warm summer months when bats are active and feeding, there is a rise in the number of bat and human encounters reported to the Jefferson County Public Health Service. Although most bats do not have rabies, some do. Bat bites are difficult to see and may not be felt. As a result, some people may not realize they have been bitten by a bat that could be infected with the rabies virus. Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Humans can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. Besides bats, raccoons and skunks are other common carriers of rabies. If you have been bitten or exposed to a bat (or other animal that may have rabies), seek immediate medical attention. Report the bite/exposure to Public Health. Treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately. Rabies can spread from animals to people and is nearly always fatal without proper treatment. With treatment, rabies is 100% preventable. If you have a bat in your house and there is any chance that it had contact with a human or a pet, you should make every attempt to catch the bat without damaging it so that it can be tested for rabies. If you have any uncertainty, for instance, you woke up and found a bat in your room, or the bat was in a room with an unattended child, a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, the same precautions should be taken. Catch the bat. Do not release it. Testing will determine whether or not the bat had rabies and will minimize the need for unnecessary post-exposure treatment. If you see a bat in your home and you are certain that there was no contact with a person or pet (for example, you saw the bat fly in the house and never lost sight of it), close the room and closet doors, open the windows and watch the bat until it leaves. How to Capture a Bat Confine the bat to one room by closing all windows and doors, turn on the lights, and wait for the bat to land. Wearing gloves approach the bat slowly, cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container and slide a piece of cardboard or lid under the can

trapping the bat. Following this procedure will insure that bat’s brain remains intact, which is necessary for testing. Tape the cardboard or lid to the container. Place the container in a cooler of ice and call Jefferson County Public Health Service at 786-3720. If you are unwilling or unable to catch the bat call local animal control. To view a video on how to catch a bat safety, please visit the New York State Department Health website at www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/. Rabies Prevention Starts with the Animal Owner All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies. It is important to keep vaccinations up to date. Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free and by spaying or neutering pets to reduce any tendency to roam or fight. To reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, stay away from animals you don’t know and report strays. Don’t touch, feed or keep wild animals. Keep tight lids on trash cans and don’t feed pets outdoors. If your pet is bitten, put gloves on before touching your pet. Call your veterinarian as your pet may need a rabies booster shot. Jefferson County Public Health Service will be offering Rabies Vaccination Clinics beginning next Tuesday, August 9 at the Adams Village Barn. All clinics run from 6:008:00 P.M. More information on rabies and rabies vaccination clinics is also available at http://co.jefferson.ny.us/index.aspx?page=578 . ####

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