A recent issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report described a case of rabies in a person from Minnesota. This person died of rabies in 2007. Approximately one month before he became ill, he held a bat in his hands and felt a ‘pin-prick’. He didn’t see a wound or blood and assumed that he had not been bitten. Since neither he nor his family knew that this type of contact was actually considered rabies exposure, he did not seek medical attention. He died approximately 3 weeks after he developed rabies. Post-exposure rabies treatment would have almost certainly prevented his death.
– Never handle a bat
– Assume all bats are rabid until proven otherwise
– Any contact with a bat is considered to be rabies exposure unless the bat has been tested and shown to be negative. All bat exposures should be reported to the appropriate public health authorities.
– Despite all the old stories, rabies exposure treatment is not horrible…it’s just a series of shots in the arm.
– Vaccinate your pets. You never know when they’ll encounter a bat…inside or out.
More information on rabies is available in our Resources area.