News release: Bat found on Lake Harriet walking path in Minneapolis tests positive for rabies

News Release
August 15, 2018

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Bat found on Lake Harriet walking path in Minneapolis tests positive for rabies

Health officials seek anyone who may have had contact with the infected animal

A bat found on the walking pathways at Lake Harriet Park in Minneapolis on Friday, Aug. 10, has tested positive for rabies. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) would like to talk with anyone who may have touched or had physical contact with the bat about whether they need rabies shots.

The bat was seen between the Lake Harriet Band Shell and the Lyndale Park Rose Garden between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Friday. A passerby properly collected and brought the bat to a local wildlife rehabilitation facility, where it died on Aug. 12. The bat tested positive for rabies on Aug. 14.

Those who may have had physical contact with the bat should contact MDH at 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414 to determine if rabies shots are necessary.

Bats in Minnesota can carry rabies and contact with them should be avoided. Rabies is a fatal illness that is transmitted through bites from infected animals. Bats are of particular concern because their teeth are so tiny that a bite may not be felt or even leave a noticeable mark. If a person has any physical contact with a bat or finds a bat in the room of a sleeping person or unattended child, the bat should be captured safely and submitted for rabies testing. If the bat is not available for rabies testing, the person who came into contact with the animal should receive rabies prevention shots.

“If someone has been bitten or exposed to a bat, it is very important to test the bat for rabies,” said Dr. Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian. “If this is not possible, rabies prevention shots should be given as soon as possible.”

To learn more about rabies and how to protect yourself, please visit the MDH Rabies website. The site includes instructions on how to capture a bat safely for testing.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) also reminds pet owners of the importance of ensuring that dogs and cats are current on their rabies vaccinations.

“Concerned pet owners who were in the area of Lake Harriet when this bat was found should contact their veterinarian,” said Dr. Courtney Wheeler, senior veterinarian in charge of the board’s rabies program. “This situation highlights the importance of ensuring pets are vaccinated against rabies.”

To report suspect rabies cases or ask questions about this disease in domestic animals, please contact the board at 651-201-6808. For more information, visit the BAH website.

-MDH-


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications
651-201-4993
doug.schultz@state.mn.us