Stock photo showing a large brown bat hanging from a tree. The first healthy bat of the summer season has been found in Utah, health officials said Thursday. (Shutterstock)
SALTSØBY – The first healthy bat of the summer season has been found in Utah, health authorities said on Thursday.
A family in Salt Lake County spotted the animal in their backyard and reported it, according to Utah Department of Health epidemiologist Hannah Rettler. Bats are the leading carrier of rabies in Utah, so health authorities reminded people to observe them from a safe distance.
“If you are near a bat, dead or alive, do not touch it, hit or destroy it, and do not attempt to remove it yourself,”
Any contact with humans or pets with a bat, dead or alive, must be reported to health officials, whether or not the bat appears to be rabies, the release said. People can call 1-888-EPI-UTAH (374-8824) or contact their local health department if they think a person or pet has been exposed to rabies or is showing signs of the disease.
If a person or pet has been exposed to rabies, health officials recommend immediately washing the wound and then reporting the animal suspected of being infected with the disease to the Department of Health or the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Symptoms of rabies may not appear in humans for weeks or months after infection, but may initially look like the flu before developing into anxiety, confusion, abnormal behavior, and delirium, the health department said. When clinical signs of rabies appear in humans, the disease is almost always fatal, so it is important to report any presumed exposure to the disease, health officials said.
In 2018, a man from Moroni died of rabies after being exposed to an infected bat. He was the first Utahn to die of the disease since 1944, health officials said at the time.
Rabies signs in pets or other animals include obvious changes in behavior, such as aggression, attacks for no reason, foaming at the mouth, no interest in food or water, dizziness or paralysis, according to the health department.
More information on rabies can be found at health.utah.gov/epi/diseases/rabies.
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