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Rabid Bat Found in Richland Township

Allegheny County Health Department encourages residents to call immediately if they come in contact with a bat.

A Richland Township family found a bat in their home that tested positive for rabies, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.

"A family with one child found a bat in its home that subsequently tested positive for rabies," a press release on the health department's website states. "As a precaution, the family is being treated with anti-rabies vaccine and (is) not expected to develop rabies."

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the bat was found Sunday against a window in the home and it died as the family tried to capture it.

Anyone finding a bat in his or her home is encouraged to report it immediately to the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-2243. 

"When a bat is found, wear a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves and place a container such as a large bowl or empty coffee can over it, slide a piece of cardboard underneath to trap the bat inside, cover the container with a lid or cap, and then submit the bat to the health department for testing," the department's website states.

"It’s especially important to report bats found in areas where people sleep, even when you’re not sure whether you’ve been bitten and exposed to their saliva, because bat bites can be so tiny they may leave no marks visible to the naked eye and so painless they may not even be felt by someone while sleeping," the website states.

The Allegheny County Health Department provides this fact sheet on its website:

Rabies Fact Sheet

What is Rabies?

  • A preventable viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord in humans and animals

  • The virus may infect any mammal but is most often found in raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes

  • 93% of animal rabies cases occur in wildlife and 7% in domestic animals, primarily cats followed by cattle and dogs

  • In the U.S., the disease is rare in humans but once symptoms appear, it is almost always fatal

How do you know if an animal has Rabies?

  • No one can tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it

  • Symptoms, if they appear, may include behavioral change, problems swallowing, increased drooling and aggression

How do animals transmit the virus to humans?

  • The virus is found in saliva and most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal

  • After a bite or contact with saliva, cleanse the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical treatment

How is rabies treated in humans?

  • Rabies vaccine must be given as soon as possible after exposure is indicated, before symptoms appear

  • Treatment consists of an injection of Human Rabies Immune Globulin in the bite area on day 0 followed by a dose of vaccine on days 3, 7 and 14 following the first treatment

When do symptoms appear?

  • The incubation period is highly variable, but usually 3-8 weeks (very rarely is it as short as a few days or as long as several years)

  • Early symptoms may include irritability, fever, headache and general malaise

  • As disease progresses, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing, delirium and fear of water appear

  • There is no treatment for rabies after symptoms appear

How can Rabies be prevented?

  • Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies so they don’t get the disease and pass it on to humans

  • Keep your pet under supervision and away from wild animals and strays

  • If your pet is bitten by a wild animal or stray, do not handle it with bare hands to avoid contact with possibly infected saliva and seek veterinary assistance right away.

  • Avoid wild animals and strays and never adopt them or bring them into your home

Need more information?

Call the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD (2243).

Cindy Cusic Micco May 24, 2012 at 12:43 AM
My apologies. When I first sent this story out it had a typo in the headline—a rapid bat instead of a rabid bat. Fortunately, a reader with good spelling skills let me know!
Jenna Staul May 24, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Can I just say this is terrifying (to me, only, maybe)? About a year ago I had a bat fly at my head outside of my apartment. A few weeks ago, while sitting on my apartment porch in Moon, a friend pointed out that he saw multiple bats flying down from a pine tree that is adjacent from my building. So now I'll be (even more) paranoid. Sheesh!

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