Wild bat at Louisville Zoo tests positive for rabies

Wild bat at Louisville Zoo tests positive for rabies
Anyone who may have come into contact with the bat is asked to call the Louisville Zoo for consideration of a post-exposure rabies vaccine. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A dead bat found near the Tiger Taiga exhibit at the Louisville Zoo has tested positive for rabies.

The bat was found on a public walkway on Monday. Zoo officials say the wild bat was not a part of the Zoo’s animal collection, and no direct human contact is known to have occurred.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Public Health and Wellness is encouraging anyone who may have touched the bat or handled it in any way to contact Louisville Metro Health at 502-574-6675 for consideration of administering post-exposure rabies vaccine. The vaccine is nearly 100 percent successful in preventing rabies if started in the first two weeks of exposure.

“The Louisville Zoo is a wonderful place to go experience nature, learn about animals and enjoy the outdoors,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “It’s common for bats to be active in summer and fall, and they can be found anywhere. But it’s important to emphasize that children nor adults should ever touch or handle a bat.”

“Bats with rabies in Kentucky, and throughout the U.S., are not unusual,” said Dr. Kelly Giesbrecht, Kentucky Public Health Veterinarian. “Each year, between 3 and 7 percent of all bats tested in Kentucky are positive for rabies. So far this year, we’ve had 8 bats test positive; 3 of those from Jefferson County.”

“Bats are a critical part of our ecosystem and it is important that we learn necessary precautions to live safely within their habitat range,” Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said. “With the quick response of Zoo staff to isolate the wild bat, we are optimistic and hopeful no contact occurred.”

Bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons or be kept as pets. Bats have small, very sharp teeth, and you may not know that you have been bitten. Centers for Disease Control data suggest that transmission of rabies virus can occur from even minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.