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INDIANAPOLIS (1 July 2022)—Henry County residents should not be alarmed at the recent local discovery of a rabid bat. While the diagnosis indicates the presence of the disease in the area, all Hoosiers should take a few common sense precautions every day to protect their families, pets and livestock against the disease, regardless of where they live.

Rabies is a viral disease spread primarily through the bite from an infected animal. Dr. Melissa Justice, a veterinarian with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, said that bats are the most common carrier of rabies in the Hoosier State. No one can tell if a bat is infected just by looking—a laboratory test is the only way to know for sure. Any exposure to a human or a pet warrants follow up.

Dr. Justice recommends the following guidelines to reduce the risk of rabies exposure to people and animals:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals (not just bats). Do not feed or handle wild animals. Secure any trash and pet food in animal-proof containers. Cover attic and chimney openings and other entry points in the home which may invite unwanted visitors.
  • Wild animals are generally active at night and avoid contact with people. Daytime contact with humans is unusual and should be viewed suspiciously.
  • Indiana law requires all dogs, cats, and ferrets 3 months of age or older be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed, accredited veterinarian. Pets should be kept close to home, as free-roaming animals are at higher risk of exposure to the disease.
  • If your pet or livestock is bitten or attacked by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian and local animal control. Your pet will need a booster if the aggressor is determined to be rabid.
  • Submit for laboratory testing any bat found in the presence of someone sleeping or incapacitated. Likewise, if a pet or livestock had known or likely exposure, consult a veterinarian.
  • If you or someone in your family is bitten or scratched by a wild or stray animal or pet, attempt to confine or capture the animal, if this can be done without risk of further injury. An unowned biting animal should be tested. An owned biter may be subject to quarantine and observation. Contact the local health department for guidance.
  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Call your physician at once to determine treatment and ensure the bite is reported to the local department of health and animal control.

For more information about rabies prevention and safety, visit the Indiana State Board of Animal Health online at www.in.gov/rabies/ .

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