|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - January 2009
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Bats force DHS offices to close second day
Polk County Enterprise - January 2009
LIVINGSTON — Bats forced several state agencies that have offi ces in the former Dunbar school building to close Tuesday and Wednesday. As of press time Wednesday staff members did not know when they would be able to see clients at the Livingston site. The offi ce houses caseworkers for Protective and Regulatory Services, Medicaid, food stamp programs and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (formerly known as AFDC). Caseworkers see about 250 clients a month for routine services and another 200 clients who are faced with emergencies. The state agency contracts with the county to use the building, but the state is responsible for maintenance to the building’s interior. Staff members were sent to work in other agency offi ces in surrounding communities Wednesday. Four bats were captured and sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services for rabies testing. The infectious disease unit of TDSHS urge the public to never touch a bat. If you see an injured, sick or dead bat, call city or county animal control offi cers, which can be contacted 24 hours a day through local city police departments or the Polk County Sheriff’s Offi ce. Bat bites are not always visible so in cases where there is a probability of exposure, the bat should be captured and tested, the health department said. Possible scenarios where bat contact cannot be determined include a bat found near a small child, a sleeping person or someone who is mentally or sensory challenged. Health offi cials add there is a risk of contracting histoplasmosis from exposure to spores in guano. Since 1950, 42 cases of rabies have been reported in Texas.