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The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has recently received an increase in the number of calls regarding bats. Public health officials urge residents to take precaution if they encounter them because bats are the main cause of human rabies cases in the United States.
“Bats can transmit rabies, so it’s incredibly important that if someone finds or has exposure to a bat that they either call their doctor or the health department to guide them on their next steps,” said Informatics Director Sonia Jordan.
The development of vaccinations in recent decades has greatly reduced the number of canine rabies cases, and most cases in the U.S. now occur among wild animals.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease in mammals, including people. Infection with the rabies virus can occur from a bite by a rabid animal or when saliva from a rabid animal comes into contact with the eyes, inside the mouth, or a fresh, open wound. In Kansas, skunks are the animal that most commonly tests positive for rabies, but health officials urge caution regarding bats because contact with infected bats is the leading cause of rabies deaths among people in the United States.
It is important to call your health care provider or the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department at 785-843-0721 if you have had any contact with a bat and if a bat is found in the room of a sleeping person, unattended child or anyone who is unable to tell you about the encounter.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism also offers these tips on what to do if a bat is in your home.