6 People Get Rabies Shots After Bites from Rabid Bats
OKLAHOMA CITY --State health officials say six people have had to get rabies shots in Oklahoma over the last two months after being bitten by rabid bats.
Laurence Burnsed of the Oklahoma Health Department said a seventh person feared exposure after waking up in a room with a bat, and also had to get the injections.
A total of 10 bats that tested positive for rabies were recovered in August and September in Oklahoma. In 2008, only one rabid bat was found in the state.
Health officials aren't sure why the incidence of rabies in bats seems to be on the increase, but warn people to stay away from these animals.
There are a few simple things people can do to avoid getting the deadly virus.
Professor Bill Caire has been studying bats at the University of Central Oklahoma for years, a reason he was surprised to hear more bats are testing positive for rabies..
"It's always interesting when people start talking about rabid bats. I think that's one area bats get bad press,” said Prof. Bill Caire.
The State Health Department said 12 bats have tested positive for rabies this year, but Caire said those numbers shouldn’t be a huge concern.
"If we went out across Oklahoma and sampled millions of bat, we would find very, very few that are rabid,” said Professor Caire.
In fact, Caire said despite the increased number of bats testing rabies, it's actually uncommon for bats to carry rabies. However, that’s still no reason to try and approach them.
“People should leave them alone if they're out on the ground doing things that bats normally don't do, leave them alone,” Prof. Caire said.
If a bat is infected, it might be unable to fly or get away if someone approaches or tries to handle it. Also, people should make sure their pets have received a rabies vaccine.
Call animal control if you see a bat acting abnormal, like coming out during the day or failing to fly.