Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bats & Skunks tested positive in St. Louis County

A bat found in a home in University City recently tested positive for rabies, St. Louis County animal control officials.

Anyone who finds a bat, dead or alive, in their home should confine it to one room and call their local health department.

There have been 25 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in Missouri this year, including another bat in St. Charles County.

Most of the infected animals have been skunks. The rate of positive tests in skunks is the state’s highest since the late 1990s.

Three dogs, two cats and one horse in the state have also tested positive for rabies this year.

St. Louis County health officials have sent 170 animal specimens for rabies testing this year, and the bat was the first to come back positive. They are awaiting results on 15 other tests. Last year, there were three instances of rabies found in animals in the county, and 28 across the state.

The majority of bats do not carry rabies and help the environment by eating insects. People should avoid direct contact with wildlife and maintain proper immunizations of pets to prevent the spread of rabies.

Number of rabid skunks on the rise in Missouri

 The number of skunks testing positive for rabies in Missouri has reached a 15-year high, although the risk to humans remains quite low, according to new state data.

State health authorities found rabies in 16 of 27 skunks tested through the first half of the year.

At the same time last year, 8 out of 27 skunks tested positive.

That compares to rabies found in 3 out of 300 dogs, 1 out of 200 cats, 3 out of 300 bats and 1 out of 12 horses.

Dennis Diehl, director of the Jefferson County Health Department, said. “It’s amazing how many people decide to approach wild animals acting strangely and end up getting bit.”

In 2008, a 55-year-old Texas County man was bitten by a bat, developed rabies and died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the first case of human rabies in Missouri since 1959.

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