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Austin Public Health looking for women who handled rabid bat

Thursday, August 9, 2018 by Katy McElroy

Austin’s health department officials are concerned about several women who were recently in contact with a bat that has since tested positive for rabies. The press release from Austin Public Health states that on the afternoon of Aug. 2, outside the Austin Convention Center, “multiple females were seen picking up a bat from the sidewalk and handling it while trying to give it water. They then placed the bat in a tree and the bat fell out again on the ground. The bat was then covered with a cone until it was collected by Animal Protection.” The bat later tested positive for rabies. Rabies transmission occurs when an animal with rabies bites or scratches a person, “or when abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes are contaminated with the saliva, brain, or nervous system tissue of a potentially rabid animal.” Though people may not show signs of rabies infection for several weeks, symptoms can then progress rapidly from fever or headache to confusion, agitation or sleepiness. Even more alarming, the release warns that “once someone with a rabies infection starts having these symptoms, that person usually does not survive.” The department is urging anyone who came in contact with the bat to call the Disease Surveillance Program at 512-972-5555 immediately for more information.

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