LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – A bat from the southern part of Columbiana County recently tested positive for rabies.
The bat was found near Hammondsville. It was tested because it may have come in contact with a human.
It is possible for rabies transmission to occur from minor or unnoticed bites from bats.
Bats should never be handled by untrained, unvaccinated persons or kept as pets.
It is easy to prevent rabies by taking the following precautions:
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
- Have all dead, sick, or easily captured bats tested for rabies if exposure to people or pets occurs.
- Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools, and other
- similar areas where they might contact people and pets.
If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a pet, wash all wounds and contact areas thoroughly with soap and water. Next, contact your physician immediately for evaluation, even with minor injuries. Finally, call the Columbiana County Health District to report the incident.
If possible, try to keep the animal confined, but don’t risk further injury if the animal is dangerous. If it is a domestic pet, record the name and address of the animal’s owner to report to the Health District
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services distributes oral rabies vaccines all year long. It’s to keep animals from carrying or spreading the viral disease.
According to the USDA, rabies is most commonly spread by raccoons. Each year, the wildlife services department monitors sick animals as well as distributes the vaccines.
“We distribute vaccine baits or baits that contain the rabies vaccine for wildlife in the hopes to vaccinate against rabies,” said Betsy Haley.
Haley is the assistant rabies field coordinator for the national rabies management program. She says they see most of the rabies cases in raccoons.
The vaccine baits are typically for raccoons; however, they work on foxes and skunks as well.
Haley says that people have more contact with raccoons than other wildlife, which is why they are the main target for the vaccines.
“Raccoons tend to be that animal that humans really like, they find cute and cuddly. They think they’re adorable. They want them, they want to encourage them to come around,” Haley said.
Raccoons may be a main concern; however, a local county is seeing the disease in another mammal.
With the bat testing positive for rabies in Columbiana County, the test was submitted because of possible human contact. The county health district explained how to prevent rabies.
“Bats can carry rabies just as raccoons and skunks and so forth. It’s very important for people to understand that if you have a wild animal or you identify one, particularly one that is acting unusual, maintain your distance. Stay away from those animals,” said Health Commissioner Wes Vins.
Columbiana County recently just had vaccines spread via helicopter.
Vins says the presence of rabies is an ongoing concern.