TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Bats infected with rabies are on the rise in Kansas right now.
When Judy Klimek found a bat in a hallway in her home, she took quick action.
“The cat had caught it, it was on the floor and was still alive, but stunned,” Judy recalls.
Luckily Judy knew how to properly catch the bat, to take it to their veterinarian for testing. Without directly touching the bat, she captured it with a food container.
Judy said, “I fit it over him, and then put the lid underneath and snap it all together. I brought him in for testing, and it turned out it was positive.”
Rabies is a serious virus that can turn deadly for pets and people if it’s left untreated for too long.
“The big concern with rabies is if you are exposed and you do contract it, once you do develop symptoms there is not a treatment,” explained Dr. Susan Nelson, a Clinical Professor at the K-State Veterinary Health Center. “So the vast majority of people and animals are going to die once they become symptomatic. And of the very few numbers of people who have survived, they’ve had severe, residual effects when recovering from rabies as well.”
Dr. Nelson said in Kansas this year, we are starting to see more positive rabies cases in bats than we have in other years; with only three bats that tested positive last year and 10 positive cases already this year.
Since the bat Judy found did test positive for rabies, and the family was asleep when the bat was in the home, the entire family and their pets had to get treated.
“The treatment was Rabies Immunoglobulins with the first injection, plus a vaccine,” explained Judy. “On day three you come back for one more vaccine. On day seven one more vaccine, and then on day fourteen one more vaccine.”
Treatment was less intense for their pets, because they had already received the rabies vaccine.
“We basically have to observe the cat, because he did directly interact with (the bat) and it’s likely he was bitten by this bat,” said Judy. “So we have to observe him for 45 days, and he got a re-booster. And the dog, as far as we know, wasn’t anywhere near the bat, but we re-boostered the dog as well.”
Overall, quick action is keeping the family safe today from developing rabies symptoms.
K-State health experts said not all bat’s are infected by rabies, but if you find one around you and think you’ve potentially been exposed try to safely capture it and get it tested.
Your doctor or the health department can then advise you on whether or not you need to get treated post exposure.
You can find updated information on rabies infections in Kansas by visiting: http://www.ksvdl.org/disease-trends.html