Spring Brings Increase in Rabies Infections

With Spring on its way, the Indiana State Department of Health’s Rabies Lab has been receiving an increased number of animal specimens to test for rabies. Four bats have been found to carry rabies within the last two weeks– two in Allen County, one in LaPorte, and one in Monroe. The ISDH is pushing for more rabies awareness to ensure that people know that bats very often carry rabies and the dangers involved in being bitten or scratched.

An Indiana University student was recently bit by a rabid bat on his hand while he slept, and after shaking the bat off in the hallway, it was found alive by a residence hall employee. A pest control officer was called to take the animal, and the student, his roommate, and the pest control officer will have to undergo a 14-day regiment for rabies shots. The animal was sent to the ISDH for testing and was found positive for rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the brain that can affect any mammal. The only way to know for sure if an animal has rabies is to have it sent to the state for testing– so don’t expect to see a rabies-infected animal foaming at the mouth. To avoid getting rabies, do not approach a wild animal, and be careful of pets or other animals you don’t know. Call your local control officer if you see an animal behaving oddly.

It can take up to two months after being bitten or scratched before any symptoms of rabies appear. When the disease reaches the brain, it is often too late for doctors to cure. If bitten by an animal that may be infected, wash the wound immediately with soap and water for at least five minutes and see a doctor as soon as possible. In the United States, more raccoons carry rabies than any other animal, but bat bites are the most common.