People exposed to bat in Grand County that tests positive for rabies
July 11, 2018
Multiple people in Grand County recently received preventative treatment for rabies after they were exposed to a bat that later tested positive for the deadly virus, according to public health officials.
The Grand County Public Health Department sent five bats for rabies testing, with two coming back negative, two pending and one positive. The positive bat was exposed to people during the night while they were sleeping, according to health officials. Representatives from the department said the exposure occurred at the end of June.
“While only a very small percentage of bats actually carry rabies, the consequences of actual rabies exposure can be catastrophic because an untreated rabies infection is almost always fatal,” officials said.
It is not the first time in recent memory people in Grand County have been exposed to rabies. In 2017, bat exposures affected multiple individuals who later received immunization protection to the virus.
“It is not uncommon to find a bat in Grand County; it is also not uncommon for bats to carry rabies,” officials said.
The health department pointed out that bat bites can be extremely difficult to see even on a human who knows where he or she was bitten. “Bat bites leave almost no mark behind but can spread saliva and rabies,” public health officials explained.
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Representatives from the department noted that skunk bites can also be difficult to detect and any animals found unattended or in close contact with either bats or skunks should be “assumed to be at risk for rabies unless rabies testing of the wild animal shows it is negative.”
Skunks and bats are the main sources of rabies in Colorado, according to officials.
Any live bats found in homes should be captured to be sent for rabies testing. Likewise, officials recommend collecting any dead bat found inside a home to send for rabies testing.
“The only way to properly evaluate your exposure risk is to have the bat tested in a lab,” officials said.