The City of Racine Health Department, in conjunction with the Central Racine County Health Department, is notifying the public of a bat that recently tested positive for Rabies in Racine County. The bat was captured and sent for laboratory testing. There was no known human or animal exposure.
According to the Wisconsin Division of Health Services, between 2010 and 2014, four bats tested positive for Rabies in Racine County. In Wisconsin, bats are the most likely animals to carry the rabies virus. Other animals that carry rabies are skunks, foxes, raccoons, livestock, dogs, and cats. There is often an increase of reported animal bites and therefore treatment for possible rabies exposure in the summer months. This may be due to the increase in outdoor activities for both animals and humans.
If left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal. The rabies virus is spread from animal to human through saliva as a result of a bite, scratch or if the animal’s saliva comes in contact with the human’s broken skin.
If an animal bite or scratch occurs, immediate and thorough cleansing of the wound with liberal amounts of soap and water is the most effective rabies prevention. It is important for a victim to contact the local health department or a physician to report the situation. If the offending animal can be safely captured without incurring further injury, it is generally advisable to do so, and then keep it contained until the local public health department can be consulted.
It is also important to contact the local public health department and a physician if a bat is found in a room with a person who is sleeping, very young or is mentally incapacitated, because bites and scratches by bats may go unnoticed by these individuals.
Rabies can only be confirmed through laboratory testing of the suspected animal. However any bat that is active during the day, is found in a peculiar place (in a home, on the lawn) or is unable to fly, is far more likely than others to be rabid.
In addition, any animal that seems to be acting abnormally should not be approached or handled in any way, but if you have questions you should call your local animal control agency.
The most effective ways to reduce the exposure to rabies are to:
Keep rabies vaccinations current and/or vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets and livestock against rabies
Reduce the stray animal population by spaying and neutering dogs and cats
Stay away from wild animals
Do not keep exotic or wild animals as pets
Exclude bats from living quarters by keeping screens in good repair and by closing up any small openings that
would allow them to enter.
For more information, call or visit your health department’s website:
City of Racine Health Department
Central Racine County Health Department