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Two Coos County residents treated for contact with bats

(File/SBG)

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- Since September 25, Coos Health & Wellness has referred two people to seek treatment to prevent rabies, the agency said in a news release.

In one instance, a curious child was found with scratches and abrasions on the hands and a story of handling a little animal. An alert mother was able to recognize it as a bat and quickly contained it. Within a day testing at the Oregon Public Health Lab showed the bat to be carrying rabies.

In the second instance, bats and people were sharing the same residence and a sleeping adult awoke to pain described as a pin prick in the leg.

In both instances, treatment was accessible within the week - a reasonable time frame to start treatment after an exposure, officials said.

"Bats are a normal part of the environment and they can naturally carry rabies," the agency said.

Wild animals are not always predictable, but a healthy bat will have no interest in biting a person sleeping and is not expected to be active during daylight hours, officials said. A wild animal exhibiting unusual behavior should be avoided, particularly a bat or a fox, both known to be carriers of rabies around the south coast.

The rabies virus is carried in the saliva of an infected animal. "This makes the bite the way rabies is spread," CHW said. Circumstances surrounding a bite and the kind of animal that’s biting are considered by state epidemiologists when consulting with CHW to determine when an animal is to be tested for rabies.

In the event of a bite or suspected bite, if the animal can be safely captured, CHW advises to make an effort to capture the animal; otherwise it cannot be tested.

Remember:

· Do not feed or handle wild animals.

· Avoid any animal with strange behavior.

· The bite from a mammal is how rabies is spread.

· There is no rabies testing of an animal that has not appeared to bite someone.

· Do not handle bats or other wild animals, especially those that appear sick or injured.

· Keep children and pets away from bats and other wild animals.

· If you have bats in your house make a night-time plan to close exterior openings when they are out.

· Consult with a veterinarian to keep rabies shots current for pets.

If you have a question about rabies call CHW at 541-751-2431.

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