SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The number of bats found with rabies continues to rise with two more being found in Midvale and Draper, respectively, within the last week.
The bats found this week were reportedly found on Aug. 26 near 1000 West and 6970 South in Midvale and on Aug. 29 at Smith Field Park in Draper. The individuals who encountered the bat in Midvale were recommended to receive rabies prevention medication. The bat found in Draper had no people around when it was found, so there are no confirmed exposures.
“Parents whose children frequent the park [in Draper] should ask their kids about encountering a bat, and contact SLCoHD if anyone touched or was touched by a bat,” stated a press release from the department.
Anyone who touched or was touched by any bat should call Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) at 385-468-4222 (option 4) to be evaluated for rabies prevention medication.
What you need to know about bats and rabies
If you encounter a bat on the ground or in an unusual place:
- Do not touch it
- Do not try to catch it
- Do not try to harm it
- Keep children and pets away
- Report the bat’s location to your local animal control agency
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other animals. People can’t get rabies from just seeing a rabid animal, and it can’t be transmitted through feces, blood, or urine. Rabies can be transmitted through infectious material, such as saliva, through the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound.
According to the SLCoHD, a small percentage of bats actually carry rabies. Officials say a healthy bat will typically avoid people and don’t pose any threat to humans. During the day, it’s normal to see these bats hanging upside down on buildings and trees.
Bats with rabies, however, may behave unusually. SLCoHD said infected bats may go into areas they would typically avoid and spend more time on the ground. Bats with rabies are also more approachable than usual, as they may also be weak, dehydrated or unable to fly.
Harming bats is illegal in the state of Utah as all bat species are protected under Utah law. SLCoHD said bats are essential to Salt Lake Valley’s ecosystem by providing pest control, dispersing seeds and pollinating plants. The Salt Lake Valley is reportedly home to several bat species and some other species usually migrate through the area.
If you find a bat roosting on your home or is behaving normally and isn’t a threat, SLCoHD said you should leave the bat alone. If a bat is roosting in your home, such as in your attic, contact a local nuisance control agency who will then coordinate with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to remove the bat.
Health officials say if you find a bat on the ground or in an unusual place, you should not touch it and keep children and pets away from it. Bats can be reported to your local animal control agency.