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August 18, 2011

Rabies found in bats, officials say avoid wild animals

Baltimore City is reporting that there is a increase in rabid bats this summer – through August 12, animal control has captured 183 bats and 12 of them have tested positive for rabies.

In all of 2010, 222 bats were seized and 11 had rabies, according to the Baltimore City Health Department.

Rabies is most commonly found in wild animals including raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats, and the virus is transmitted in the saliva, usually through bites. Those who are bitten, scratched or have contact with animals that may be rabid need to immediately wash the wound and seek medical attention.

“Rabies is preventable when medical care is obtained shortly after exposure. Once clinical symptoms develop, however, rabies is nearly always fatal,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of health, said in a statement.

The last human case of rabies in Maryland was in 1976, though a few people die of rabies every year in the United States. In July, a city resident was treated for exposure after the person sought help for a wounded, feral cat that tested positive for rabies.

Each year around the state a few hundred animals test positive for rabies and up to 900 are vaccinated as a precaution. Earlier this month, for example, some Harford residents were vaccinated after their apartment complex became infested with bats.

City officials recommend wearing gloves when handling an animal that has been in a fight or is bleeding, securing garbage cans with lids to keep wild animals out, sealing openings through which bats or other animals could enter a home or using screens, confining wild animals that do get inside and calling for help, avoiding unfamiliar animals, vaccinating pets and recognizing the signs of rabies including aggressiveness or lethargy and frothing at the mouth.

Associated Press photo

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 2:32 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Consumer health


Did the city mention that there has been a concurrent increase in the number of bats they're testing? The city announced a rabies epidemic a couple of years ago when they started testing every raccoon they could find. Brilliant!

We live about 2 blocks West of the city line. Sunday a.m. our neighbor found a dead bat in his work boot, in his bedroom. I bagged it for him and advised him to call DNR and the Health Department. There were signs of the fungus that is infecting our bat population. He called both, and both told him there was nothing they could do, a law protecting bats was put into effect in 08 and he had to leave any bats he found in the house alone and they could not be removed??????? No one offered to pick up and test the dead bat, which scares the crap out of me. I had informed him of the fungus and rabies dangers thinking the county and state would actually do something!

This is a good warning. After several batless years here in our Glen Burnie neighborhood, I was thrilled to see one flying up and down our street at dusk last Tuesday. When I went out to check for it again Wednesday evening, there were three! Knowing how many insects (incl. mosquitoes) they eat, they are extremely welcome. But I will be sure to keep my distance!

So what constitutes exposure? If you see bats flying around or what seems like close to your head? Does it have to touch you. This is scaring me.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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