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Rabies found in bat in Bellaire

Photo Provided A big brown bat, one of several bat species native to Ohio, takes flight in this image on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website. An unspecified type of bat found in Bellaire tested positive for rabies this week.

BELLAIRE — A bat collected Wednesday in Belmont County tested positive for rabies.

The Belmont County General Health District was notified Thursday by the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory that a bat collected in the village of Bellaire had tested positive for rabies.

The health district advises that every pet owner should be sure to get pets vaccinated for rabies and take other steps to prevent getting bitten by a bat or any other wild animal.

Rabies is a viral disease present in mammals that is most frequently transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The virus acts by infecting the central nervous system and causing disease in the brain and, subsequently, death.

Symptoms of rabies include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort early on and can progress to anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, hypersalivation and hydrophobia. Once the infection has progressed to this point death frequently occurs within days.

The Belmont County General Health District can send bats for testing if there has been a potential exposure to humans or pets, officials said.

Tips to reduce risk of rabies:

Avoid contact with wild animals, sick or injured animals and animals you don’t know.

Pet vaccinations should be kept current, and pets should not be permitted to roam.

Food and nesting or hiding places for wild animals should be eliminated from residential areas.

Do not feed wildlife, and if you must feed your pets outside, bring the food in at night or keep it covered.

Call your doctor and your local health department if you are bitten by an animal or if a bat is found in your sleeping area.

Human rabies immunizations are effective in preventing human rabies. A series of post-exposure rabies immunizations can be given to animal bite victims when the biting animal cannot be quarantined or tested.

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