On Wednesday, April 19, Five Star ER Medical Director Dr. Brian Aldred sat down with Dianne Odegard, Education & Outreach Manager at Bat Conservation International, to discuss rabies and bats. This topic has been in the news lately with bats testing positive for rabies at various locations in the Austin area.
Medical Director Dr. Brian Aldred is live for #WellnessWednesday on the topic of bats and rabies with special guest Dianne Odegard of Bat Conservation International.
Posted by Five Star ER on Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Statistics from Texas Health and Human Services show that about 95% of the animals that tested positive for rabies are bats. But that information can be somewhat misleading. More bats are tested than any other animal, and it is important to remember that a very small percentage of bats are actually “carriers” of rabies. This means that the vast majority of bats who have rabies have contracted the virus and will die from it. Rabies is a serious virus that certainly can be fatal in humans, however, annually only about 1 – 2 people die from rabies in the United States.
Prevention is Key
If you encounter a wild animal that could have rabies, such as a bat, raccoon, fox, skunk or coyote, keep a safe distance. Never attempt to catch or kill such an animal. Call 311 if you have an animal in your home and need help removing it.
What to Do if You are Bit
Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually with a bite. If you think you have been bit, or have come into contact with the saliva of an animal that could have rabies, seek medical attention immediately.
Why Bats are Important
Odegard tells us in the video about the different varieties of bats and their function in our ecosystem. According to Bat Conservation International, 78 bat species are endangered worldwide. Bats pollinate more than 500 species of plants, spread seeds in deforested regions, and eat insects; in fact, little brown bats have been observed eating more than 600 mosquitoes in an hour.
Bats are not naturally aggressive. Since we live in a city with a large bat population, it is important to be educated on how to coexist with bats in a safe way.