CHIPPEWA LAKE — Medina County has reported its sixth rabid bat of the year — and the third in Chippewa Lake.
The bat was found Thursday in a private home and sent to the Ohio Department of Health laboratory, where it tested positive for rabies Friday. There have been no reports of exposure to people or pets.
The six rabid bats reported in the county this year are the most since at least 2003, when four were found to be infected. None was reported last year.
The county’s last reported rabid bat on Aug. 8 also was found in Chippewa Lake. Other rabid bats were captured in Medina in mid-March, Brunswick on May 16, Litchfield Township on May 29 and Gloria Glens on June 6. Health officials report that bats are the animal in Ohio most commonly found to have rabies.
Experts told The Gazette in June that the four rabid bats then accounted for 12 percent of the bats that had been tested this year — more than double the 4 percent to 5 percent expected for the total bat population.
In a news release, Medina County Health Commissioner Krista Wasowski attributed the increase in positive rabies tests in bats to heightened public awareness.
“Bats are common in Ohio and are good for our ecosystem,” she said. “Since we’ve made the community more aware of the health risk associated with rabies, more citizens are capturing and sending the bats to us for testing. Consequently, we are seeing a slight increase in those testing positive for the disease. While we encourage the capture of bats found inside a home, we strongly discourage people from ‘hunting’ bats to bring in.”
Health officials warn that residents should not touch a bat found outside or in their homes. If discovered inside a home, attempt to capture the bat and call the Medina County Health Department. Do not release or kill the bat. Live bats are better for the testing process.
To capture a bat inside a home or building:
• Wear gloves and avoid direct skin contact with the bat.
• Avoid harming the bat’s head because that can make it impossible to test for rabies. Also, do not use a glue board or drown the bat because that also may affect the rabies test.
• Contain the bat in one room by closing windows and doors.
• Keep room lights on 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 container.
• If necessary, use a net or long pole with a piece of duct tape (sticky side out) to capture the bat.
The Health Department also can provide a list of licensed animal control professionals who may be contacted.
If humans or pets are exposed to a bat, immediately contact the Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at (330) 723-9523, option 3, or toll-free at (888) 723-9688.
If a pet is exposed to a bat, contact a veterinarian to check the pet’s rabies vaccination status and find out if a booster shot is recommended.
The Health Department said it further will advise if a pet is exposed.
Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.