August 11, 2016

Bat in Clermont County tests positive for rabies

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 11, 2016) – A Clermont County woman was recently bitten by a bat that was discovered in her home. The bat was captured and brought to Clermont County Public Health to be tested. An Ohio Department of Health laboratory tested the bat and found it had rabies. The woman is undergoing treatment and should be fine.

The last time rabies was found in Clermont County was in 2013 when it was also discovered in a bat. Rabies can be carried and spread by a number of wild animals, but bats and raccoons make up the majority of rabies cases in Ohio. In 2015, there were 24 confirmed rabies cases in the state.

The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal and affects the central nervous system. Once infected, the virus will almost always cause death. However, human rabies cases in the United States are extremely rare because of pet vaccinations and anti-rabies treatment.

The large majority of animal bite cases investigated by Clermont County Public Health each year are from domestic dogs or cats. In 2015, Clermont County Public Health investigated 331 animal bite reports, of which 97 percent were dogs and cats. “In these cases the biting animal is typically quarantined for 10 days after which it is evaluated for rabies,” said Rob Perry, director of environmental health. “If it is a wild animal and can be safely captured, it is humanely euthanized and sent to the Ohio Department of Health lab for testing.”

In cases where the biting animal cannot be captured for quarantine or testing, the bite victim is referred to their physician to be evaluated for post-exposure rabies treatment. If warranted, rabies treatment should begin as soon as reasonably possible after a bite to maximize effectiveness. Treatment can be initiated through any hospital emergency room.

Because of their nocturnal lifestyle, and the fact that they fly, physical encounters with bats are rare. However, Perry warns that “bats that are seen during the day or are unable to fly are more likely to be rabid.” Even though bat encounters with people do happen, pets are still more likely to be exposed or bitten by a bat, or other wild animal, so keeping your pet current on its rabies vaccinations is important.

If a bat is found in your home, careful evaluation for possible exposure should be done. Because a bat bite may be so small that it could go undetected, rabies treatment should be considered if the bat was found in a room with a sleeping person, an unattended child who is not able to describe what happened, or a room with an individual under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with other sensory or mental impairment.

“Contact with any wild animal should be avoided,” said Perry. “However, if a bat does enter your home and must be caught, protect yourself by wearing thick leather gloves, and try to trap the bat in a large jar or container, to transport.” For more information on rabies visit www.ccphohio.org

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For more information:
Keith Robinson, Communications Coordinator at Clermont Public Health,  513.732.7717 or ktrobinson@clermontcountyohio.gov

ABOUT CLERMONT PUBLIC HEALTH: CCPH is a local government agency that provides public and environmental services, nursing services and education to Clermont County residents. For more information, visit http://www.ccphohio.org or call 513.732.7499.