In case you don’t already, steer clear of bats.
The nocturnal critters are active in the late summer months. And so far this year, eight of the flying mammals in Nebraska have tested positive for rabies. Seven were in Lincoln and the other was in Ashland, officials said.
That’s prompting state health officials to remind residents about possible exposure to rabies.
Bats are a common carrier of rabies, and during the summer months, the possibility for exposure increases, said Dr. Bryan Buss, state public health veterinarian with the Department of Health and Human Services.
No human cases of rabies have occurred in Nebraskans since the 1920s, the department said.
Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal or if saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into an open wound or a person’s eyes, nose or mouth. Rabies is generally fatal without preventative treatment.
Health officials said 12 animals have tested positive for rabies so far this year in Nebraska, including bats, skunks, a cat and horse.
Health officials offered these tips:
» Seek immediate medical attention if you’ve been in direct contact with or have been bitten by a bat.
» People often know when they’ve been bitten by a bat, but its small teeth can make bite marks hard to find. If you or a family member has been in close proximity to a bat, consult your doctor or local health department.
» If you wake up and find a bat in your room, try to safely capture the bat and have it tested. Use the same precautions if you see a bat in a room with an unattended child.
» Make sure pets are up to date on vaccinations.
» Seek immediate veterinary assistance if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
» Do not touch, feed or attract wild animals.
» Maintain homes so bats can’t get inside.
» Never adopt or bring wild animals into your home. Do not try to nurse sick wild animals to health.
» If a bat is in your house, don’t let it outside until you talk to your animal control or public health officials. If you can do it without putting yourself at risk for physical contact, try to cover the bat with a large can or bucket and close the door to the room.