Two bats found in Salt Lake County in the past week have tested positive for rabies. Here’s what to do if you come across a bat.

The Salt Lake County Department of Health urges anyone who comes into contact with a bat to be screened for rabies prevention measures.

(Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) Two bats in Sat Lake County tested positive for rabies last week, according to a release from the Salt Lake County Department of Health. Get up close and personal with bats at the upcoming Meet the Bats event.

According to the Salt Lake County Department of Health, two bats in Sat Lake County tested positive for rabies last week.

A Department of Health press release said a bat was found on August 26 near Bingham Junction Park, 1000 West and 6970 South in Midvale. The other was found Tuesday at Smith Fields Park, 13400 S. 200 East in Draper.

Health officials recommend anyone who comes into contact with a bat to call the department at 385-468-4222 to be screened for rabies prevention medication.

The two people who encountered the bat in Midvale were recommended such medication, the health department said. No one has encountered the bat in Draper, officials said, but families who use the park frequently should ask their children if they’ve encountered a bat — and contact the health department if necessary.

Symptoms of rabies in humans include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, excess drooling, difficulty swallowing and fear of water, the department said. Once clinical signs of rabies appear, the disease is considered 100% fatal, according to the department.

Rabies can occur in any wild animal, ministry officials said, and people usually contract the virus through the bite of an infected animal — but a person can become infected if the animal’s saliva or brain matter gets in their eyes, nose, mouth or another body gets wound. According to health officials, the feces, blood or urine of infected animals does not transmit the disease.

If someone encounters a bat on the ground or in an unusual location, they should not touch it or try to catch or harm it, health officials said. You should also keep children and pets away and report the bat’s location to the local animal welfare agency.

Healthy bats typically avoid humans, and only a small percentage of bats are carriers of rabies, the department said. However, bats with rabies could behave unusually — and look weak, enter areas they would normally avoid and possibly spend time on the ground, health officials said.

Humans must avoid contact with all wild bats because only a lab test can tell if the animal is infected, the department said. Officials also urged people to keep their pets’ vaccinations up to date in case they come across an animal infected with rabies. Utah law requires dogs, cats, and ferrets to be vaccinated against the virus.

Bats that perch on the outside of a home and behave normally do not pose a threat and humans should leave the animals alone, the release said. Utah law protects all species of bats because they help with pest control and pollination, officials said.

When a bat sleeps in a home’s attic, the ministry is urging people to contact a licensed wildlife control company for help. However, if the animal has been in the living quarters of a home, call the Health Department at 385-468-4222 to have it evaluated for rabies prevention medication.

Justin Scaccy

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