Three bats test positive for rabies

July 19, 2021

Infected big brown bats found in 40059 zip code of Jefferson County

LOUISVILLE Ky. (July 19, 2021) — Following recent tests that confirmed rabies in three bats from Jefferson county, public health and wildlife officials are asking the public to take precautions around bats and to contact their local health departments if they have come into direct contact with a bat.

Three rabies-positive big brown bats were among 18 bats tested at the Kentucky Department for Public Health laboratory during routine surveillance conducted due to possible human exposure. The three infected bats were found in the 40059 Zip code of Jefferson County. Two of the bats were found inside an individual residence while the third bat was found in the exterior of another home. 

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that can be transmitted from animals to people through a bite or contact with the animal’s saliva and a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Less than 1 percent of bats contract rabies.  In the United States, rabies is most commonly found in wild animals like bats.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologist Zack Couch said the big brown bat is one of the most common species in the state. It is more likely than any other species of bat in the state to take up residence in buildings.

July is maternity season for bats and newly born bats are beginning to take flight. Bats, which are normally nocturnal animals, may be seen roosting in the open during daylight hours at this time of year.

Employees of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife are working with landowners in areas where the infected bats have been found to help minimize the threat of exposure to humans.

Jefferson County residents who observe a bat in their house or a dead or impaired bat on their property should not touch it but immediately contact the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6650. The department will arrange for the bat to be collected and submitted for rabies testing.

“Bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons nor be kept as pets,” said Connie Mendel, assistant director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “Bats have small, very sharp teeth, and you may not know that you have been bitten. Transmission of rabies can occur from even minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats. So please, NEVER touch a bat.”

Mendel added, “It’s also important to protect your pets from rabies. Please make sure your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccination.”

Louisville Metro Animal Services will provide low-cost pet vaccinations, including one or three-year rabies vaccines on Saturday, July 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 201 Outer Loop. For more info and pricing of services, visit the events page at https://www.facebook.com/LouisvilleMetroAnimalServices.

Healthcare providers are required to report animal bites to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness by fax to (502) 574-6657. If Healthcare providers have questions regarding reporting or need additional information, they can call the Public Health and Wellness Rabies Prevention Program at 502-574-6640. Rabies reporting and treatment protocols for healthcare providers are posted at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/rabies-control.

People who live outside of Jefferson County who find a dead bat should contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife or their local health department for the possible collection of the animal. Residents may call Kentucky Fish and Wildlife from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on weekdays at 800-858-1549, or email the agency any time at [email protected].

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