Bat near Forsyth Park tests positive for rabies

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 8:55 AM EDT|Updated: May. 24, 2023 at 5:43 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A bat near Forsyth Park has tested positive for rabies, according to the Coastal Health District.

The Chatham County Health Department’s Environmental Health office wants to remind remind visitors and visitors to avoid contact with wild animals and ensure pets are properly vaccinated against rabies.

They say the bat was caught by a domestic cat inside a home near Forsyth Park and was brought to a local veterinarian. The veterinarian notified the Health Department, who then tested the bat for rabies

The cat was current on its rabies vaccination, according to the Coastal Health District. They say the resident had recently received post-exposure rabies treatment and is not considered at risk

They say the resident is working with a wildlife removal company to ensure any other bats are removed from the property.

The Coastal Health District wants to remind everyone that several species of wild animals in our area can carry rabies, including raccoons, foxes, and bats. Rabies is a potentially deadly virus that is primarily spread by infected animals.

“If I had to wager a guess, it’s less than one percent of the population that’s actively shedding the virus. Once an animal starts exhibiting rabies symptoms, that animal will probably be dead in one to three days,” Beth Grubbs said.

“It’s a carriage house apartment that the guy lived in and so he had a problem with bats in the past and so he started post exposure treatment as a precaution. This time, a bat managed to get in the living area of his home and the cat brought it to him.”

They have released tips to protect primarily spread by infected animals. They say following these tips could protect your family:

  • Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis. If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912.652.6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912.356.2160.