(Mason City) – The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health would like to remind residents that this time of year, bat activity increases throughout our county. This also increases the interaction between humans and bats. Bats are associated with rabies, so the Health Department is encouraging residents to follow safety precautions when dealing with bats.
Rabies is a disease of the brain caused by a virus. It results from exposure to an animal with rabies. Rabies in humans is always fatal but also 100% preventable if treated appropriately. Anyone can get rabies after exposure to a rabid animal. Rabies is spread when the virus from the animal’s saliva (mouth) gets through a person’s skin through open cuts or wounds or in the mouth or eyes. The chance that rabies infection will result varies with the type of the contact or “exposure.”
Bat bites can be visibly undetectable and therefore, if you have any physical contact with a bat, you should wash the exposed area thoroughly with soap and water. If possible, the bat should be captured without damaging the animal and tested for rabies. Residents should contact the Health Department for instructions on how to test the bat for rabies. If capture is not possible, you should seek medical attention. Additionally, if a bat is found in the same room as an unattended child, a sleeping person or anyone who cannot reliably communicate what happened, this is considered a potential bat exposure and medical attention should be sought.
Vaccination of pets against rabies is the best way to reduce human exposure. Avoid contact with all wild animals. Do not keep wild animals as pets. Control of stray animals can decrease both animal and human exposure to rabies. Animals that have had contact with an animal that might have rabies should be reported to a veterinarian.
If you have additional questions about bats and or rabies, please visit our website at www.cghealth.com or call (641) 421-9336.