The woman who was touched by the bat may have been exposed to rabies. Public Health is asking the individual or anyone who knows the woman to contact staff immediately at (719) 339-3230. Public Health investigators will assess the risk for rabies exposure and recommend next steps. It is very important that anyone who had contact with the bat be identified as soon as possible.
A passerby at the park, who witnessed the bat falling on the woman, took the bat home. The bat later died and was submitted for rabies testing. On Thursday it tested positive for rabies.
Rabies is a fatal disease that can be spread from a bat to a person or pet by a bite or scratch, even if very small or barely noticeable. There is medication available for exposed people that will prevent rabies infection. Those who saw the bat or were in the area and had no physical contact are not at risk.
The onset of rabies symptoms varies; however treatment should take place as soon as possible after exposure occurs. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms begin.
In El Paso County, four bats have tested positive for rabies in 2012.
To avoid exposure to rabies:
· Never touch a bat or any other wild animal. A healthy bat likely will not come near enough to be touched, so a bat that is slow, lying on the ground or that falls from a tree could be showing signs of illness. 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 and double trash bags.
· If you are bitten by a bat or if you suspect you’ve been exposed to its saliva, try to contain the bat without touching it, and contact your local animal control agency or health department so the bat can be tested.
· Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies.