PUEBLO, Colo. - The Pueblo City-County Health Department says a woman was bitten by a rabid bat inside her home.
"It is important to know bats are in all areas of Pueblo County, from city neighborhoods to the mountains," stated Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods public health director. She added, "The individual who was bitten is receiving rabies vaccine in a timely manner to prevent the illness, and is at home."
The health department says bats need to be tested for rabies whenever they come into contact with people. If you come in contact with a bat, you should try to contain it without touching it and then contact animal control by calling 719-544-3005. You can also call the health department at 719-583-4341.
Rabies is caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Bat teeth are very small and sharp; a wound from a bat bite may not be visible. Rabies also can be transmitted by a scratch or if the animal's saliva gets into a cut or break in the skin. Just seeing a bat or being in the area, without any physical contact, is not a risk.
"People can be exposed to rabies when they assist, feed, handle or come in contact with wild animals," Dr. Nevin-Woods explained.
This is the second animal to be confirmed with rabies in Pueblo County this year; the first was a skunk. Rabies has been found in wild skunks, foxes and bats throughout Pueblo County in recent years.
Pet and livestock owners are highly encouraged to vaccinate animals against rabies through a licensed veterinarian. "Un-or-undervaccinated dogs and cats exposed to rabies have an extremely high chance of getting infected and dying from the disease. These pets also pose a tremendous risk to humans because they can bring rabies into the home," Dr. Nevin-Woods stated.
To avoid exposure to rabies:
· Never touch a wild bat or any other wild animal. A healthy bat likely will not come near enough to be touched, therefore a bat that is slow, lying on the ground or lands on a person could be showing signs of illness. Bats out during the day are more worrisome. If you can touch the animal, chances are it is sick. Children who find a bat should leave it where it is and tell an adult.
· Do not pick up a bat with your hands, even if you're wearing gloves. Use a shovel to place in bucket or coffee can if the bat needs to be tested.
· If you are bitten by a bat, other wild animal, or if you suspect you've been exposed to their saliva, try to contain the animal without touching it or monitor where the animal wanders off to. Contact your local animal control agency 544-3005 press"0" or health department 583-4341 for the animal to be collected for testing.
· Keep your doors and windows covered with intact screens. Do not leave screenless doors or windows open in the evening.
· If you have bats in your house, try to find the source of entry and seal it. If assistance is needed, look in the phonebook under "Pest Control" to contact a local pest control business who has experience on how to do this.
· Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies. Keep in mind that vaccines not administered by a licensed veterinarian are not considered valid vaccinations in the State of Colorado, including Pueblo County.