Right now, Austin Public Health is trying to find anyone who recently came in contact with a bat that tested positive for rabies.
Dr. Phil Huang with Austin Public Health says on August 2nd around 4:30 p.m. there were multiple reports of several women helping a wounded bat. After attempting to put the bat in a tree, the bat fell down, and it was covered with a cone until Animal Protection could pick it up.
Austin Public Health says so far this year there have been 22 bats that have tested positive for rabies in Travis County. They say it’s rare for humans to test positive but as for the people they’re looking for right now, their health could be at serious risk.
Dr. Huang says, "Do not touch any bats that you may find if they're sick or on the ground you know that means there's something the matter with it."
He says to call animal control or 311 and someone will come to get the wild animal. If youv’e been infected, it could take several weeks or longer to show symptoms like fever or headache. It can make the nervous system change quickly causing confusion, sleepiness, or agitation.
“Fever agitation then can lead to coma. But then again if anyone gets any of those symptoms it's almost always results in death,” Dr. Huang says.
So it's extremely critical to talk to your doctor right away if any animal bites you, especially a wild animal. FOX 7 Austin asked Carol Barrasch with Austin Public Health was it possible the women could have been visiting from out of town for the RTX Gaming Conference that was held at the Austin Convention Center. And if so, do they now know how huge the risk is. She says she did an interview with someone in Dallas about this and is hoping the word continues to spread about what's happened.
"We are putting out the press release we appreciate you all trying to get the word out. We also have it posted on our Facebook and twitter messenger,” Dr. Huang adds.
He also says, there needs to be an assessment to see if there needs to be a follow up vaccination. If you had direct contact with this bat or know someone that has, you're asked to call the Disease Surveillance Program at (512) 972-5555.
Rabies exposure occurs only when a person is bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal, or when abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes are contaminated with the saliva, brain, or nervous system tissue of a potentially rabid animal.