Bat found at Zilker Park tests positive for rabies

City of Austin Animal Services and Austin Public Health are asking the community to be alert and take precautionary measures with wildlife such as bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes after a recent confirmed case of rabies.

On April 22, around at 3:50 p.m., an Animal Protection Officer (APO) responded to a call on the Great Lawn at Zilker Park near Lou Neff Point about a bat near the ground on a tree trunk.

The bat was submitted for rabies testing with the Texas Department of State Health Services. Bat bites can be imperceptible due to the tiny size of their teeth.

The bat has tested positive for the rabies virus.

"First and foremost, our concern is identifying any person or animal that may have had direct contact with the bat," said Jason Garza, deputy director of Animal Services. "Anyone known to have contact with the bat is urged to seek medical care to begin preventative treatment."

If someone is bitten by a wild animal, Animal Protection should be called immediately by dialing 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000. The victim should also contact a physician immediately.

Any contact with a bat, or any sick or dead bat should also be reported to 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000.

Rabies is present in Central Texas through bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, and coyotes. It is spread through contact with an infected mammal’s saliva. 

Rabies is deadly if not treated before onset of symptoms. Symptoms of rabies include change in personality, fever, loss of appetite, excessive salivation (foaming), weakness, paralysis, and death.

In addition to vaccination, area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:

  • Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
  • Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
  • Do not feed wildlife.
  • Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
  • Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.
  • Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.

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