Officials warn about possible rabies exposure from bat placed on picnic bench

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Big brown bat. Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Big brown bat. Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The public health department is Jefferson County has a warning for the person who handled a bat and placed on a picnic bench in Harriman Park. That’s near Quincy and Kipling streets.

The bat could have rabies, and the person who touched it could be at severe risk and needs to seek medical attention.

Officials know the bat was handled because it was “placed on a woman’s floral shirt and had a cigarette placed in its mouth,” according to a a statement.

The bat was in such poor physical condition that medical experts could not determine if it had rabies, so they have to assume that it did.

Rabies is a serious disease that affects the nervous system and is fatal if left untreated but there is treatment if discovered early.

Safety Information

Bats should be collected for rabies testing when possible if they are observed to be behaving strangely, or when they may have had contact with people or their pets–particularly within the home or other enclosed buildings, according to Jefferson County Public Health.

In addition to rabies vaccinations for pets and livestock, there are additional precautions to prevent possible exposure to rabies:

  • Do not feed, touch, or handle wild animals.
  • If you find a bat inside your home, do not let it out or discard of it. Call animal control so that the animal can be tested. Otherwise, exposure is assumed and quarantine and/or prophylaxis will be required.
  • Teach children to leave wildlife alone.
  • Do not leave pet food or livestock feed in areas accessible to wildlife.
  • Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in your community.
  • Call your local animal control office to remove stray animals from your neighborhood
  • Call the Colorado Division of Wildlife at (303)297-1192┬áif you have problems with wild animals.

If you are concerned that you or one of your animals might have been exposed to rabies, seek medical or veterinary attention immediately.

Resources:

  • For more information or to report a suspicious animal, please contact your local Animal Control agency or Jefferson County Animal Control: 303-271-5070
  • For more information about rabies contact Environmental Health Services Animal Borne Disease Program at 303-271-5700 or visit www.jeffco.us/health.