A Lemont resident is being treated for exposure to rabies after being bitten by a rabid bat.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture the incident happened inside the victim's home in the 1900 block of East Branch Road in the early morning hours of July 28.
The unidentified man was reportedly in bed when he heard a noise. When he got out of bed the bat bit him on the top of his foot.
The bat was killed and testing at a Pennsylvania Department of Health lab showed the bat was carrying rabies. The man who was bitten is receiving exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, which prevents rabies before symptoms can develop.
This is the second time this summer that someone in our area has been bitten by a rabid animal. In June, a Harris Township woman was attacked by a rabid fox in a residential area on Andover Drive.
Dr. Elizabeth Santini, a veterinary medical field officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says there is no cause for alarm, noting that these types of incident are not uncommon. "Rabies is an endemic disease in the wildlife of Pennsylvania," she says. "While raccoons are the primary rabies vector species in this region of the country, other wild animals such as bats, foxes, skunks, groundhogs are common carriers.
"We also find a relatively large number of rabid cats in the Commonwealth, due to our large feral and unvaccinated outdoor cat population. Cats are a significant source of rabies exposure to humans in our state."
So far this year, there have been 12 cases of rabies in Centre County. That includes six raccoons, three foxes, two bats and one white-tailed deer. Santini says those numbers are typical.
On Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that a white-tailed deer found in Empire Court Trailer Park in Centre Hall had tested positive for rabies. Health officials urge anyone who may have been bitten or exposed to saliva, fluids or tissue from the deer to call Centre County State Health Center, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 814-865-0932. Residents can also call 1-877-PA HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) at any time.
Santini says it's "critically important" for pet and livestock owners to have their animals properly vaccinated for rabies. "They are our barrier to the wild animal vectors that spread the disease," she says. "It is extremely important for anyone exposed to a rabid animal to seek [treatment] as soon as possible after exposure."
Here are some warning signs that could indicate an animal has rabies:
- Nocturnal animals being active during daylight hours
- Unusual aggression or lack of fear.
- Neurologic signs (such as the inability to walk or stand properly)
You should avoid any contact with animals exhibiting unusual behaviors and contact police or the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
If pets or livestock come into contact with an animal suspected of having rabies, you should contact the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Health.
Click HERE for more information about rabies.
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