|Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - Thursday, April 3, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Bat tests positive for rabies
Houston County Courier - April 2008
During school hours on Monday, March 24 the Crockett Independent School District maintenance crew received a call that there was a bat in the Crockett High School gym.
According to authorities, the maintenance crew was aware of the correct procedures for safely handling bats.
The bat was taken to the animal control officer so that it could be submitted for rabies testing.
The bat tested positive for rabies. Fortunately, no humans or animals had contact with the bat.
The CISD Superintendent Dr. Bill Like has distributed information to educate the students, staff, and parents about bats and the precautions to take when someone encounters one.
CISD officials sent the following information to parents of students attending district schools:
"When we returned from Spring Break this year, a dead bat was discovered in the Crockett High School Gym.
"We have had bat sighting before, so last year three of our employees were trained by the Texas Association of School Boards in specific bat handling techniques.
"One of the trained staff members retrieved the bat and it was sent to the health department for testing.
"We were notified at the end of the week that the bat tested positive for rabies.
"Safety and security for our students and staff is a primary concern of the school district. No one has been hurt and we have closed the high school gym for evening use as a precaution.
"We are also seeking professional help in making sure our buildings are as secure from bats as possible.
"We are sharing this information with all staff, students, parents, and the community.
"Everyone needs to be aware that we do have rabid bats in the county and take the necessary precautions.
"The State Health Department has helped us prepare the following information:
"If a bat comes into contact with a person, either by flying into the person, landing on the person, or by being picked up or handled by the person, the person should try to capture the bat without further skin contact, so it can be tested for rabies. If available, an adult should carry out the capture.
"If the bat is not available for testing, the person should speak with a physician or health department to assess the exposure.
"If a person finds a 'downed' bat or a bat in a building, especially one carrying young, and if there has been absolutely no human or pet exposure, and if an adult is available and willing to do so, capture the bat and release it outside in an area distant from people. The adult should wear gloves or use a paper, shovel (gently), or other object to pick up the bat.
"Remember that a bat may look dead, but “come to life” when it is picked up. Therefore, secure the bat on the shovel or other object. For bats on walls in a building, cover the bat with a coffee can or a box.
"Then gently slip a piece of heavy paper between the can or box and the wall so that the bat is trapped inside the container and the paper serves as a lid. Transport the bat in the container. One might also use a towel, blanket, or other such object to throw on the bat to capture it. The city of Crockett’s animal control officer can help with the bat removal.
"Nearly every case of human rabies in the United States for the past several years has been associated with bats. Interviews with friends and family of the patients who died of rabies revealed that nearly every one of the patients knew they had been bitten or had other physical contact with a bat.
"However, they did not realize the potential for rabies transmission or the need for a medical evaluation and follow-up care.
"Bats are so small and intriguing (at least to some people, especially children) that they often do not stimulate the aversion response that a skunk, snake, or scorpion might.
"People who find a bat might want to pick it up, handle it, take it to show and tell, or have other contact.
"Therefore, it is important to teach your children (and everybody else) that if they encounter a bat on the ground or wall or anywhere else, not to touch or handle it. Get a responsible and capable adult to handle the bat.
"If a person does have physical contact with a bat, the person should seek medical assessment."