Don’t Freak Out, But a St. Louis Bat Tested Positive for Rabies


Don't do this with a bat. - CALLIE NICKOLAI / FLICKR

It was bound to happen eventually. Now that local bats are coming out of hibernation, KMOV reports that the first rabid bat of the year has been confirmed by the St. Louis County Health Department.

And while the Health Department takes this opportunity to caution animal owners about keeping their pets’ vaccinations up-to-date, if you follow even basic bat safety, there is really very little reason for humans to worry about contracting rabies themselves.

If you find a bat in your home (alive or dead), stay the heck away from it and call animal control to have them come and catch it. In St. Louis County, that's at 314-615-0650 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Outside of these hours, you can call the police non-emergency line at 636-529-8210 and ask for an animal control officer to be sent to you.

From there, they will take care of the entire situation for you. The Department of Health says that your only real chance of contracting rabies is if an infected bat bites you, so stay far away from it until the situation is neutralized by professionals. Shut it in a room, flee your house — whatever it takes.

(Spot the bat in the city? We've got bigger problems in these parts; they only want you to call if there's a risk the bat transmitted rabies to a person or pet. In that case, contact the Citizen's Service Bureau at 314-622-4800. See the city's website for more info on when to call.)

If you are bitten by any rabid animal, it is generally treatable, but early intervention is key. If you think you were bitten (even if a possibly rabid animal just scraped you with its teeth), seek medical advice immediately. Left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.

But most bats are actually our allies. Not only are they, like, super cool, they also eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour, a problem that is a terrible nuisance here in St. Louis, one of the most mosquito-infested cities in the entire United States.

Thanks, bat friends. Stay hungry.

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