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Avoid bats, southern Utah officials warn after recent rabies reports

Posted at 4:25 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 18:28:58-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah — The Southwest Utah Public Health Department is advising the public to avoid bats after multiple cases of rabies recently.

The department stated there have been “several recent human exposures to rabies-positive bats” in the area and urges residents to get the rabies vaccine.

“If the disease is left untreated and starts to show symptoms, it is nearly always fatal,” said Dr. David Blodgett, the department’s director and health officer.

The health department says nearly all rabies cases identified in southwest Utah occurred in bats or animals that were bitten by bats. Coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks can also carry the virus in their saliva.

Officials also encourage residents to vaccinate their pets as domestic dogs and cats can also carry the virus.

To avoid rabies infection, the department advises avoiding any wild animal that seems sick or aggressive, or if it seems to allow people to get close.

If bitten by any animal, seek medical care immediately. Contain or capture the animal if it’s safe to do so, so it can be tested for rabies.

The department even says that if you have physical contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat inside, it is best to assume you’ve been bitten and seek medical treatment or advice.