CLAYTON – After being sent for testing on April 17, a local bat has tested positive for rabies. This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in St. Louis County this year. This event serves as a reminder that residents should always be cautious around wildlife.
“Residents need to be aware that area bats have awoken from hibernation,” said Spring Schmidt, acting co-director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. “It is extremely important that residents do not handle or interact with these wild animals because some of them do carry rabies.”
People are urged to be aware of and cautious around all wildlife and to avoid direct contact with any animal behaving strangely. Children should be taught to stay a safe distance away from any unknown animals, including unknown pets.
Residents should check their pets’ immunization records. Because rabies can be passed from wild animals to domestic pets, the first line of defense is to make sure all cats and dogs are properly vaccinated, as required by St. Louis County ordinance. Once symptoms of rabies begin, there is no cure and the disease almost always is fatal.
Any County resident who encounters a bat in their home – alive or dead – is urged to call the public health department immediately. A bat should be collected and tested for rabies especially if it was present in a home while people were sleeping or in the same room with anyone who is not able to describe the extent of their exposure. Residents should not attempt to capture a live bat but should confine it to the room where it was discovered so animal control officers can properly collect it.
To report a bat, call St. Louis County Animal Care and Control at 314-615-0650 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.). After business hours, call 636-529-8210.
Most bats do not carry rabies. In fact, bats perform a beneficial service by eating large quantities of insects. However, if one bat in a colony contracts rabies, it will likely spread to other members of the colony.