LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Public health and wildlife officials are asking residents to take precautions around bats after three big brown bats from Jefferson County tested positive for rabies. They are also asking those who have come into direct contact with a bat to contact their local health departments.


What You Need To Know

  • Public health and wildlife officials are asking residents to take precautions around bats

  • Three big brown bats from Jefferson County tested positive for rabies

  • Rabies ia a fatal but preventable disease that can be transmitted from animals to people

  • Jefferson County residents who observe a bat in their house or a dead or impaired bat on their property should contact the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6650

The three rabies-positive bats were among 18 bats tested at the Kentucky Department for Public Health laboratory during routine surveillance conducted due to possible human exposure, according to a release. The infected bats were found in Jefferson County's 40059 ZIP code. Two bats were found inside an individual residence while the third bat was found in the exterior of another home.

The release said that rabies is fatal but preventable and can be transmitted from animals to people through a bite or contact with the animal's saliva and a person's eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Less than 1% of bats contract rabies, the release added.

The big brown bat is one of the most common species in the state, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologist Zack Couch, and it's more likely than any other bat species in the state to take up residence in buildings.

July is maternity season for bats and newly born bats are beginning to take flight. Normally nocturnal, bats may be seen roosting in the open during daylight hours at this time of year.

The release said employees of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife are working with landowners in affected areas to help minimize the threat of exposure to humans.

Officials are urging Jefferson County residents who observe a bat in their house or a dead or impaired bat on their property to not touch it and immediately contact the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6650. The department will arrange for the bat to be collected and submitted for rabies testing.

Those who live outside of Jefferson County should contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife or their local health department for the possible collection of the animal. Residents may call Kentucky Fish and Wildlife from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT on weekdays at 800-858-1549 or email the agency any time at info.center@ky.gov.

“Bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons nor be kept as pets,” said Connie Mendel, assistant director of Public Health and Wellness. “Bats have small, very sharp teeth, and you may not know that you have been bitten. Transmission of rabies can occur from even minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats. So please, NEVER touch a bat.”

Mendel added, “It’s also important to protect your pets from rabies. Please make sure your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccination.”

Louisville Metro Animal Services will provide low-cost pet vaccinations, including one or three-year rabies vaccines on Saturday, July 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 201 Outer Loop.

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