Animal control officials say no need for panic after third bat tests positive for rabies

tporter@lsjournal.comJuly 18, 2014 

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    Number of bats recovered in Lee’s Summit that have tested positive for rabies since June 1.

For the third time in little over a month-and-a-half a bat recovered in Lee’s Summit has tested positives for rabies, but the city’s animal control supervisor said the findings are not anything to be alarmed by.

Rodney Wagner, supervisor of the Lee’s Summit Animal Control department, said bats are prevalent in the summer months and because the department actively tests recovered bats, the chances of bats testing positive for rabies increases.

He said three bats testing positives for rabies within a six-week span is nothing to ring the alarm about.

“They kind of hibernate in the winter, so you don’t see them a whole bunch in the winter unless it gets extremely warm,” Wagner said July 16, a day after the latest positive rabies test was announced. “Summertime is going to be when we see the most bats. Bats are the single biggest carrier of rabies in Missouri – bats and skunks are – so it’s not unusual for bats to have rabies.

“We know some can have rabies, so we are always precautionary when we deal with them. The fact that we have had three positive tests for rabies in the last six weeks is because we actually test a lot of bats and we do that for public safety.”

According to the Lee’s Summit Police Department, in the latest incident animal control officers recovered a bat July 9 from a home in the 100 block of N.E. Misty Meadow Lane.

The resident of the home had been bitten by the bat on his foot while standing on his deck the day before. The bat was recovered the next day and as part of the standard procedure, the bat was sent for rabies testing.

The results came back July 15 that the bat had tested positive for rabies. The resident who had been bitten had already started the precautionary series of rabies shots, according to authorities.

The previous incidents were June 1 in the 800 block of N.E. Chestnut Street and June 8 in the 1200 block of S.W. Walnut Street.

“There are a lot of bats this year,” Wagner said. “I’m not sure why that is, but we have had a lot of bat calls. I’m guessing it’s because of the first one that came back rabid; it tends to bring the public’s view up on it. We’ll do about 50 to 70 bat calls a year. It’s just hit or miss if we’re going to get one that tests positive for rabies.”

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