Heightened Awareness After Bat Found At School Tests Positive For Rabies

After a bat found at Morton Middle School tested positive for rabies, many in the metro are on high alert. 

As temperatures drop, bats come in closer contact with humans as they try to move indoors to find warmth. Bats are one of the most common wild animals to carry rabies, and with them moving in closer to humans as the temps drop, educating yourself about rabies and prevention is key. 

Dr. Mark Rupp is the Chief of Infectious Diseases with Nebraska Medicine and he tells NewsRadio 1110 KFAB that making sure bats can't get into your home is the first step to protecting yourself. "The recommendation is that you seal your house so obviously the bats don't get in in the first place."

Rupp says although human cases of rabies in the United States are rare, they can happen and if left untreated are fatal. "Rabies is exceptionally dangerous if you contract it, so its almost universally fatal. There are only a handful of cases of people who have contracted rabies and actually survived the infection." 

If a bat does happen to get into your home and you are bitten, Rupp says there are treatments available to keep you safe if exposed. "If you are bitten by a bat this would generally require rabies prophylaxis, so we do have a vaccination and other medications that we can give to prevent rabies that is highly effective."

Rupp says you don't have to be bitten to run the risk of contracting rabies though. "The recommendation is also if you awake, and a bat has been flying around in your bedroom, and so you're not really sure what it's been doing, you would also get prophylaxis." Rupp says that is because rabies is transmitted through the bat's saliva, and if it came in contact with your eyes or mouth you could become infected that way.

In all, although rabies is rare, Rupp says it is best to know what to do if you come in contact with a possibly infected bat. "It is a disease that if you're exposed to you should seek out medical attention because it's essentially preventable with proper vaccination."

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