A rabid bat was found in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday, and state health officials are asking to talk with anyone who had physical contact with it.
The winged mammal tested positive for rabies after a group of work colleagues found and captured it near the intersection of Marquette Avenue and 6th Street. The group brought the bat to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which completed its testing Thursday, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Rabies is typically transmitted through a bite from an infected animal, but a bat’s teeth are so small that a bite might not be felt or have left a noticeable mark, the Health Department warned.
“If someone has been bitten [by] or exposed to a bat, it is very important to test the bat for rabies,” said Carrie Klumb, senior epidemiologist and rabies surveillance coordinator for the Health Department. “If this is not possible, the person should get rabies prevention shots as soon as possible.”
Rabies is almost always fatal after symptoms develop.
In addition to people who handle bats, anyone who has been sleeping in a room where a bat was found should seek medical advice because the bat could have bitten a person while they slept, health officials say.
The Marquette Avenue rabid bat is the latest of several found recently in the Twin Cities. In early summer, two rabid bats were found in Minneapolis. Last year, rabid bats were found at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis and Como Lake in St. Paul.
Although rabies is not common in bats, most human exposures to rabies in this country are caused by bats, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The United States has two to three rabies cases a year, but 55,000 people receive preventive treatment after possible rabies exposure.
In addition to bats, rabies can be carried by raccoons, foxes and skunks. In Minnesota, skunks are the most common carrier of rabies, except in the northeastern corner of the state, where bats are the most likely to have rabies.
Anyone who had physical contact with the bat found Tuesday is urged to call the Health Department at 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414 to determine whether rabies shots are necessary.