TOPEKA — A bat sent for testing has come back positive for rabies in Shawnee County, according to the Shawnee County Health Department.
Officials are encouraging area residents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of rabies and the steps to take if exposure is suspected. Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that is typically transmitted by raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes.
The first symptoms of rabies include general weakness or discomfort, fever or headache, and may last for days. Discomfort or itching of the bite site, progressing within days to symptoms of cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion and agitation may then develop. Progression of the disease may result in delirium, abnormal behavior, hallucinations and insomnia. Once a person begins to exhibit signs of disease, survival is rare.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) offers the following tips to help prevent rabies:
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate all dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and valuable breeding stock and show animals (cattle and sheep) against rabies.
- If bitten by an animal, seek medical attention and report the bite to your local public health department or animal control department immediately.
- If your animal is bitten, contact your veterinarian or local health department for advice.
- If you wake up in a room with a bat present, even if there is no evidence of a bite or scratch, seek medical attention.
- Do not handle or feed wild animals. Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
- Do not try to nurse sick wild animals back to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly.
Rabies vaccination is a four shot series over 14 days. The first shot must be administered through a primary care office or emergency room, which is known as day zero. Shots are received on day zero, the third day, seventh day and fourteenth day. The remainder of the series can be obtained at the SCHD’s immunization department at 2115 SW 10th Avenue; questions about receiving the vaccination can be made by calling the SCHD immunization department at 785-251-5700. If a person has not previously been vaccinated against rabies, they may also need to receive a human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) vaccination at the time of the first vaccination of the series.