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