HEALTH

Bat found in SLC tests positive for rabies, health expert weighs in

Jun 1, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: 7:00 pm

A bat recently found in Salt Lake City tested positive for rabies. Stock photo

SALT LAKE CITY — A bat recently discovered in Salt Lake City has tested positive for rabies.

Nicholas Rupp, from the Salt Lake City Health Department, explained to KSL NewsRadio on Thursday why the bat was tested.

“It was tested because it was behaving abnormally,” he said. “Healthy bats usually avoid people and they pose no threat to humans. But a bat on the ground or a bat that is willing to be approached by people is more likely to be suffering from rabies. And so that’s why this bat was tested, and we did find it was positive.”

Rupp says it’s important to stay away from bats and other wildlife.

“The most important thing to know is you should stay away from bats and other wildlife,” he said. “Because there is a potential that wildlife could carry rabies. It’s a very small percentage but those that do are potentially dangerous to humans.”

Reduce pets chances of getting rabies from a bat 

Rupp also says it’s important to keep our pets protected.

“The other thing to keep in mind is that our domestic animals, our dogs, our cats, they are more likely to come into contact with wildlife,” he said. “So, it is essential that they are current on their rabies vaccine.”

Rupp says a bat bite is usually very small and undetectable.

“We don’t always know if a bat has come into contact with us,” he said. “For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night, and you see a bat has been in your living space, in your home, you don’t know if that bat has touched you. And their claws are so tiny, that there’s a potential they can scratch you and you wouldn’t notice.”

He says if you see a bat in your home, or your living space, you need to contact the local health department so you can be evaluated for post-exposure medication to prevent rabies. 

Additionally, Rupp says bats are an important part of our ecosystem. He says they are so good for our environment. He asks that healthy bats be left alone.

“Infact, it’s illegal to harm a bat intentionally,” he said.

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Bat found in SLC tests positive for rabies, health expert weighs in