April 24, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
36°F

Third rabid bat reported in county

LITCHFIELD TWP. — A third rabid bat has been discovered this spring in a Medina County home.

The animal was found in a home on Norwalk Road near the Litchfield Circle on Friday.

The Medina County Health Department reports that there was a potential for exposure to people and pets. The department sent the bat to the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory in Columbus on Tuesday and received the results Wednesday that the bat tested positive for rabies.

Rabid bats also were found on May 16 at a home on Alda Parkway on Brunswick’s northeast side, and March 6 in the kitchen sink of a home on East Liberty Street in Medina.

In neither of the earlier cases were residents in direct contact with the bats, Health Department spokeswoman Janet Gammell said, but there was reported exposure to a family pet in the Brunswick home.

Gammell said rabies is fairly common among bats in Ohio. Generally, 4 percent to 5 percent of all bats — about one in 20 — test positive for rabies. But before this year, the last bat rabies case in the county was reported in 2011 in Medina.

Gammell said two cases in one year is uncommon. The last time more than one was reported in the county was 2003, when four bats tested positive.

“There’s no way to know or predict if we’re going to have more for this year or if this is it,” she said. “We get bats in every year, but in some years we just don’t get rabid bats. We’re getting more bats to test lately, so it could just be that more bats coming in means more rabid bats will be found.”

Gammell said that when a captured bat tests positive for rabies, the Health Department immediately will call the resident and conduct a risk assessment. If health officials cannot rule out exposure, they will advise the resident to consult a personal physician.

Exposed means a person or animal has been bitten or scratched, or come into contact with a mucous membrane.

“If a bat comes into your house and lands and then flies out, you’re not going to get rabies from that,” Gammell said. “It’s a very fragile virus.”

Gammell said pets should be vaccinated because it means a shorter observation period and less chance of developing the disease if they are exposed.

Health officials urge people to attempt to safely capture a bat if it’s found inside their home.

Recommended steps for capturing a bat include:

Wear gloves and avoid direct skin contact with the bat.

  • Avoid harming the bat’s head. The rabies virus is concentrated at the base of the brain. If damaged, it cannot be tested.
  • Keep the bat in one room and close windows, room doors and closet doors.
  • Turn on lights if the room is dark and wait for the bat to land.
  • Cover the bat with a coffee can or similar container. Slide a piece of cardboard under the can to trap the bat and tape the cardboard tightly to the can.
  • If necessary, use a net or long pole with a piece of duct tape (sticky side out) to capture the bat.
  • Do not use a glue board to capture the bat because this affects the rabies test.
  • Do not drown the bat because that also affects the rabies test.
  • Contact a licensed animal control professional.

Officials ask people not to release a captured bat and instead to call the Health Department at (330)723-9523.

RABID BATS REPORTED IN MEDINA COUNTY

2003 – 4
2004 – 1
2005 – 0
2006 – 0
2007 – 1
2008 – 1
2009 – 1
2010 – 0
2011 – 1
2012 – 0
2013 – 3
SOURCE: Medina County Health Department

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.

  • Karen Stone

    Bats are so good for the environment, but the risk of rabies is there, so use caution if you must handle a bat.nKarennGetBatsOut.comn970-319-3313