Rabies exposure in New York State - map of area

Public Health Warning issued after rabies exposure from bat in New York State.

In many states, this time of year is a quiet time for “bat news.” Millions of bats are hibernating; other colonies have migrated south for winter. So, we were surprised to see a report from Oneonta, in New York State, of a case of rabies exposure from a sick bat. 

Following the confirmation of the rabid bat on Jan 4, the health department reported a single individual had been exposed to the virus. Immediate post-rabies exposure vaccinations have been administered to this person. With rabies primarily transmitted through animal bites or contact with infected saliva, residents are urged to exercise caution and maintain a safe distance from wild animals and stray pets to avoid contact with rabies.

A bat colony in hibernation

Why is rabies exposure a serious problem?

Rabies is still a fatal illness if it is left untreated. For this reason, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) must be received soon after rabies exposure. If the treatment is given, there is no cause for great concern. According to the CDC: “People cannot transmit rabies to other people unless they are sick with rabies.” They explain that PEP protects you from developing rabies; therefore, you cannot expose others to it. 

a woman receiving a rabies shot to her arm after bat exposure

What is the health department doing?

The Otsego County Department of Health has promptly addressed this health risk, issuing a public health warning for residents to stay away from wild animals and to tell their children to do the same. In addition, residents have been reminded that it is the law in New York State that dogs, cats, and ferrets kept as pets from 4 months old are vaccinated against rabies and that these vaccinations must be kept up-to-date—the Department of Health has also made available free rabies vaccination clinics for pets to minimize rabies exposure

dog receiving rabies vaccination

What can you do?

This report has been a good reminder that no matter the time of year, we all should be aware that rabies transmission from wild animals, including bats, is still a risk. However, provided we are sensible and avoid contact with wild animals, report sick animals, educate our children, and keep our pet’s vaccines up to date, we can do our part to ensure our community stays safe. 

Check out the articles below for more information about how to keep bats away from your property. If you need help with bats in your home, contact your local residential bat removal specialists at Get Bats Out for a professional, safe inspection. 

Keep Bats Away From Your House

Residential Bat Removal

Your Local Bat Removal Specialist,

Michael Koski

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

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