Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department has received notification that a bat captured in Wisner has tested positive for rabies. This is the second bat confirmed infected with rabies that has been captured in our health district in the last month. On August 17, another bat captured in Norfolk was also found to have rabies. Both of these bats bit humans, and the individuals who were bitten have received treatment for rabies.
Left alone in their wild habitats, bats pose little risk to human health. Many species of bats are insectivores and can consume millions of insects every night. This is beneficial to farmers because the bats eat plant pests. Bats will also consume mosquitoes which a huge benefit to humans! Unfortunately, they can become infected with viruses that can then potentially infect humans. That is the case of these two incidents of bats who had rabies—they happened to come into contact with humans.
Without treatment, rabies is virtually 100% fatal. This disease is spread from animals to humans through saliva, bites and scratches. Washing the bite or scratch wound immediately with soap and water can be lifesaving, but the person must still seek medical advice. Vaccination and immunoglobulin injection is the standard treatment given to someone who is bitten by an animal who has been confirmed to have rabies.
Please ensure that your pets are up to date on their vaccinations. If you have a bat in your home, do not handle it with bare hands. In addition, bats are not the only animals that can have rabies, so make sure you always use caution when you’re around wild animals or domesticated animals that are behaving erratically. For more information about rabies in Nebraska, please visit http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/rabies.aspx .