Rabies Risk Rising in Fall

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - The cooler temperatures are sending some unwanted guests into homes that could be deadly to pets and humans. Bats are finding their way into warm buildings which increases the risk of rabies.

"(Bats) will try to enter any crevices that they can to get into a place where it's warm. Where they semi-hibernate for the winter," Eau Claire City County Health Director Richard Thoune said.

Eau Claire County Humane Officer Bekah Weitz handles animal bite cases in the area and said a known bite isn't the only time people should take action to avoid rabies.

"If you wake up and a bat is on your bedroom floor, you've been exposed. And you need to seek medical attention, because humans can't feel bat bites," Weitz said.

She said pets that show unusual behavior, or had contact with wild animals should be taken in and possibly quarantined.

"If you are bitten by a domestic animal that has the rabies vaccination or is on quarantine, you don't have to start vaccinations yourself right away because you can watch that animal. But stray or wild animals, you wanna start treatment right away."

Although only three human cases were reported in the state in the past 12 years, about 55,000 people worldwide die each year from rabies, Thoune said.

"It's not like living through the flu. It's something that will hurt you maybe, do some irreparable damage. And you're going to go through treatment for possibly years and years," Weitz said.

Rabies can be prevented by avoiding all contact with wild animals, and getting pets vaccinated regularly, she said.

"Rabies is 100 percent preventable when vaccination is recieved," Thoune said.

Weitz suggested calling animal control and not shooting animals yourself that are suspected to have rabies because its brain is needed for testing and its blood could infect humans and animals.


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