Health department: Bat found at Savannah State tested positive for rabies

Local News

File photo of a bat

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A bat found on campus at Savannah State University (SSU) this week has tested positive for rabies, health officials said.

According to the Chatham County Health Department, the bat was found Tuesday morning on the back porch of the College of Business Administration building.

It was taken to a local veterinarian’s office and tested positive for rabies.

Anyone who recalls handling a bat on or around Feb. 18 is urged to call the health department’s Environmental Health Office at 912-356-2160 or Harris McDew Health Center at SSU at 912-358-4122.

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are SSU’s top priorities,” a statement from the university said.

According to the health department and SSU, the two are working closely to identify any affected students and determine what treatment would be needed, including post-exposure rabies vaccinations.

Citing privacy concerns, the health department couldn’t comment on whether any students or faculty received treatment.

“Rabies is a fatal disease. However, proper treatment can prevent humans from developing rabies even after exposure to an infected animal,” the health department stated. “Any student who had contact with the bat will be given information about the treatments needed to stay safe.”

Here is some additional information from the health department concerning rabies and how to protect yourself:

  • Several species of wild animals that are native to coastal Georgia – including raccoons, foxes, and bats – can carry rabies.
  • Rabies can be spread to humans through bites, scratches, and other contact.
  • Symptoms of rabies in animals include a change in behavior, biting, aggression, showing no fear of natural enemies (such as humans), foaming at the mouth, and paralysis.
  • Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
  • Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.

If an animal ever bites you, the health department says to seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Health Services at 912-652-6575 and their Environmental Health Office at 912-356-2160.

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