A bat found in a Carson City home tested positive for rabies after a male under the age of 21 was bitten and other family members were exposed to the animal, according to the city's Health and Human Services Department.
Names of the people involved and the location where the bat was found weren't disclosed. The other occupants are being monitored for rabies symptoms, said Dustin Boothe, a disease investigator with the department.
"We're assessing exposures," Boothe said. "And talking with the family."
The victim received initial treatment Monday, and testing of the bat for rabies was completed Tuesday.
The person bitten was scheduled to receive vaccine treatment Wednesday, Monday, and two more times, ending four weeks after initial exposure. Part of the vaccine is administered near the bite area, and the rest in the person's backside, Boothe said.
Rabies vaccine and immune globulin, the latter to ward off infection and help weaken the virus, are provided as first treatment. Obtaining medical attention quickly is important, Boothe said.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Wild mammals, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and bats, can transmit it to people. Most recent human rabies cases in the United States have been caused by bats, according to Boothe and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though a hard bite by an infected animal definitely could pass rabies to a person, contact between an animal's and person's mucus membranes or with already broken skin also are highly likely ways the disease is passed from one living thing to another, he said.
"It's better to get the first shot as soon as possible." he said.
Less likely ways for humans to catch this disease is by an animal nibbling or licking broken skin. It can't be passed through the animal's feces, blood or urine, the CDC reports.
If you have been bitten by a bat or other animal that might be rabid, wash the wound with soap and water for five minutes and seek immediate medical attention. Report the incident to Animal Services.
It is unknown how the bat got inside the home. More people are setting bat cages to attract the animals because they like to feed on insects and help pollinate some plants, which might be why the animals are sometimes entering homes, Boothe said.
People who find bats in their homes should contact Animal Services. Do the same if your pet or another domestic animal has been bitten by a bat.
"Bats have small, sharp teeth that may not leave a visible puncture wound or noticeable pain at the bite site," Boothe said. "It is possible to be bitten by a bat and not realize it."
Seek medical attention if you awaken and see a bat in your home, or if you have had any physical contact with a bat, Boothe also said.
There are roughly 125 animal bites reported in the city annually, most are from dogs and cats.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.
For your information
• Maintain current rabies vaccinations on all dogs and cats that are at least four months old
• Confine all pets or keep them on a leash
• Avoid sick or injured animals (and warn children to do the same).
• Avoid stray or wild animals, especially nocturnal bats and skunks moving around during the day.
Report animal bites and scratches that break the skin - and any contact with bats - to Carson City Animal Services, 887-2171.
Report bites to Health and Human Services, 887-2190.
- Source: Carson City Health
and Human Services