SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah public health officials have confirmed the first three cases of rabies in bats for the summer, exposing multiple people and pets.
“The humans received preventive vaccines, and the dogs received boosters and a 45-day home quarantine because they were up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations,” a statement from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reads.
With the confirmed cases, the department is issuing a reminder about the risk of rabies exposure.
“If you find yourself near a bat, dead or alive, do not touch, hit, or destroy it and do not try to remove it yourself,” said Hannah Rettler, an epidemiologist with DHHS.
A bite or scratch from any animal infected with rabies can transmit it.
They also warn that if an unvaccinated pet is exposed to rabies, the only options are four-month professional isolation at your expense or euthanasia.
“Keeping your pet current on its rabies vaccines is the most important and affordable way to protect you and your pet from rabies,” the department advises.
In addition to vaccinating your pets, follow these guidelines to help reduce your risk for getting rabies.
- Keep your pets inside and supervise them when outside.
- Call your local animal control officials to report stray dogs and cats.
- Don’t approach wild animals. Stay away from any animal that seems unafraid or aggressive. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to the nearest local Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office or animal control agency.
- Keep bats out of your home. Seal any cracks and gaps where bats can enter your home.
- Consider the rabies pre-exposure vaccine if you plan to travel to a country where rabies is common. Ask your healthcare provider or travel clinic whether you should receive the rabies vaccine.
- If you or your pet is exposed to a wild animal, the Utah Public Health Laboratory can test the wild animal for rabies if testing is warranted.
- If you are bitten by any animal (domestic or wild), immediately wash the wound well with soap and water and see a healthcare provider.
Signs of rabid animals include changes in normal behavior such as aggression, attacking without reason, foaming at the mouth, no interest in food or water, staggering, or paralysis.
If you see an animal showing signs of rabies or think you may have been exposed, call your local health department.
For more information on rabies, click here.