Rabies is caused by a virus in the saliva of an infected animal. Any mammal - a warm blooded animal with fur - including bats can get rabies. In the United States, raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats are the main animals that get rabies. Rabies can be passed on to a human, pet or farm animal by a bite or a scratch from a rabid animal. If this occurs, follow-up is needed right away.
It’s always best to stay away from wild animals, stray dogs and cats and to be careful with other people’s pets. People who have been bitten need to see their health care provider about the need for tetanus, antibiotics and to discuss the need for rabies prophylaxis. The bite must be cleaned well with warm water and soap.
If you see a stray animal, an animal acting strangely or if you are bitten notify animal control for your area. In Sheboygan County, your local police department has authority for animal control. And, always make sure your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations including rabies.
What if you wake up to find a bat flying around your bedroom or your child’s room? DON’T help it fly out the window. A bat can scratch you in your sleep without you knowing it and expose you to rabies. For you own safety and to avoid rabies prophylaxis treatment, contain the bat if you can do so without additional risk or exposure. It needs to be exterminated (without crushing it) and tested for rabies. However, use caution.
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