Lufkin residents catch rabid bat

From the Lufkin Police Department

LUFKIN, TX - City of Lufkin Animal Control personnel have confirmed that a bat captured in a Lufkin home was infected with rabies.

Tuesday evening, June 20, 2013, the resident of a home located in the 1100 block of Williams Street contacted City of Lufkin Animal Control concerning a bat they captured. When the resident discovered the bat inside the home, they captured it in a hat and called Animal Control. No physical contact between the bat and humans or pets was reported.

Animal Control personnel retrieved the bat and testing at the Department of State Health Services Laboratory in Austin found it to be infected with rabies.

Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system. The virus is spread through the saliva of infected animals, so humans and animals can be infected through the bite of a rabid animal or by the saliva from such an animal contacting their mucous membranes or an open wound. Such contact with a rabid animal can only be treated through a series of shots administered by a healthcare professional.

All mammals, including humans, are capable of contracting this deadly disease. Angelina County typically sees two to three rabies cases each year, with most cases involving bats.

Lufkin Police Department spokesman Detective JB Smith said; "the discovery of one rabid bat is not cause for alarm, but it highlights the importance of avoiding contact with bats and ensuring that our dogs' and cats' rabies vaccinations are up to date. Pet vaccination is the most effective means of protecting your pet and your family from this disease."

Anyone bitten by a domestic animal or bitten or scratched by a wild animal must immediately contact a healthcare professional for a rabies risk assessment instead of waiting for symptoms to develop; once symptoms are present, the virus may be untreatable.

All animal bites must be reported to local animal control authorities in order that the biting animal can be quarantined or tested for rabies.

Signs of rabies in animals include abnormal behavior such as nocturnal animals being active during the day, approaching humans or other animals, difficulty with movement, and unusual sounds.

Bats and other wildlife should not be handled. Healthy animals usually avoid human contact; a wild animal that allows you to approach or handle it is likely ill or injured and will bite in self-defense.

Suspicious animal activity and suspected rabid animals should be reported immediately to local animal control authorities. Angelina County Animal Control can be reached by calling (936) 639-8763, and City of Lufkin Animal Control can be reached by calling (936) 633-0218.

City of Lufkin Animal Control offers these tips concerning exposure to rabies: Do not feed wild animals – this just brings them closer to your family. Teach children to stay away from wild or deceased animals. Do not allow pets to roam freely, as free-roaming increases their chance of exposure without your knowledge. Keep your pet's rabies vaccination current. Immediately contact a veterinarian if your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal. People with possible rabies exposure should consult with a physician without delay. Report all animal bites to animal control authorities; the biting animal must be tested for rabies.