April 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly sunny
59°F

Seventh bat tests positive for rabies

BRUNSWICK — A bat found in a Brunswick home tested positive for rabies.

The bat was the seventh to test positive for the disease this year — two more than the combined total of the last nine years.

The bat was found in a home in the 800 block of Penny Drive on Friday. It was sent to the Ohio Department of Health laboratory for testing, and the results came back Tuesday.

According to Lynee Bixler, a spokeswoman for the Medina County Health Department, a person was exposed to the bat. She said that person was advised to get medical treatment following the incident and was notified of the positive test Tuesday.

The number of bats found rabid is the most since at least 2003, when four bats tested positive. There were no rabid bats reported last year, and no more than one a year reported in each of the previous nine years.

Bixler said she thinks the increase in positive rabies tests is because of increased public awareness of the need to test bats found in a house.

“We’ve been (telling) people, if you find a bat in your home to turn them (in) and have them tested, so I think it’s because people are keeping an eye out,” she said.

She said bats are common in Ohio, and it’s not unusual for some of them to test positive for rabies. Still, the local rabies tests rank slightly higher than the state average.

This year, seven out of 122 bats tested positive for rabies, about 5.7 percent. The state average is about 4.25 percent.

Bixler said the rabies rate isn’t raising many eyebrows for health officials, though they are watching it closely.

“We are not alarmed because we’re attributing the increase to the fact that people are more aware and following our advice,” she said.

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.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.