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Bat at Natural Tunnel in Scott County tests positive for rabies

Staff Reports • Jul 18, 2018 at 5:13 PM

DUFFIELD — A bat collected at the Natural Tunnel State Park swimming pool last week has tested positive for rabies.

The bat was collected Friday by the Scott County Health Department and tested by the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, according to a Wednesday afternoon news release from the Virginia Health Department.

If you were at the pool on Friday and had direct contact with the bat, either by being bitten or by handling it, resulting in your skin coming in contact with the saliva or central nervous system tissue (brain or spinal cord) of the animal, contact the Scott County Health Department.

Swimming in the pool does not pose a risk of infection.

Northern skunk and bat variant rabies have previously been identified within the Lenowisco Health District. Although the identification of rabies in the bat is not completely unexpected, it does serve to remind everyone that rabies is a real threat in our area. This provides an opportunity to remind everyone of some simple measures that can be taken to avoid potential exposure to rabies.

— Vaccinate pets and livestock.

— Do not feed or try to handle wild or stray animals.

— Avoid all sick or strange-acting animals.

— Cover garbage cans and do not leave pet food outside.

— Do not keep wild animals as pets. It is dangerous and illegal.

— Do not touch or pick up dead animals.

— Leave live bats alone and do not handle dead bats.

— Do not let your pet play with bats.

— “Bat proof” your house or other buildings with screens and cover up openings.

— Call your doctor for advice if an animal bites you, or call your vet if your pet is bitten and report any such incidents to your local health department.

Avoiding exposure to rabies is the best defense against this deadly virus. If you have questions regarding whether or not you or your pet has had an exposure to rabies, please call your local health department to discuss. Early treatment, before the appearance of symptoms, is very effective in preventing rabies infection in humans.

It is critical to report, as soon as possible, any exposure to saliva, or brain or spinal tissue from a domestic or wild mammal to the health department so that the risk of exposure to rabies can be determined. Health department staff will then recommend how best to proceed given the circumstances of the exposure. If the human exposure was to a domestic dog, cat or ferret, the health department will ask the owner to confine the animal for a 10-day observation period; if the human exposure was to a stray animal, every attempt will be made to capture the animal and confine it at the local animal shelter.

If the domestic animal dies before the confinement period is over or has been killed it will be submitted for testing. If the animal was a wild mammal and was a species of concern, the animal will be collected for testing, if available. If the animal is not available, either domestic or wild, health department staff will assist the victim in determining if post-exposure treatment is necessary.

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