The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health is advising residents to avoid bats and other wild animals which can carry rabies.
Rabies is a disease that affects the brain and central nervous system. The rabies virus is carried in the saliva of infected animals and is usually transmitted to people and other animals when they are bitten or scratched by the rabid animal.
Depending on the exposure, it may be necessary for a person bitten or scratched to get rabies shots. These post-exposure vaccinations can cost around $9,000 for those without health insurance. If left untreated, rabies is fatal to humans and animals.
Raccoons, bats, coyotes, foxes, and skunks are considered high-risk species for transmitting the rabies virus. In the Midwest, the most common carriers of rabies are skunks and bats. Three people died last year in the United States due to bat-type rabies because family members did not realize the person had been bitten.
If you find bats in your attic, have raccoons under your porch, or come across a sick or injured animal, contact a wildlife control professional. Do not try to remove the animals yourself. City residents can contact Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control to have a bat safely removed from living areas.
Whenever a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person or a young child or disabled person, it is also important to have the bat tested.
If you have been bitten by a wild animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, seek medical attention and report the incident to the local animal control agency.
For more information, visit www.allencountyhealth.com.