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Veterinarian warns pet owners to beware of rabid bats

INDIANAPOLIS — As the end of summer comes near, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health is encouraging pet owners to be on the lookout for bats, which are known to carry rabies.

Sandra Norman, the rabies program director for BOAH, said now is the time of year when bats are most active.

“Bats are the primary source of rabies in Indiana,” Norman said, adding that as World Rabies Day approaches on Sept. 28, now is the time when Hoosiers will see the most bats.

Norman stressed that while bats have positive benefits, including eating lots of insects, they pose a risk to public health since they can carry rabies, which is why it is imperative to keep bats from getting into houses.

Norman said vaccinating against rabies is essential, and all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated when they are 3 months old since the odds of them coming in contact with a bat while outside or in the wild is greater than a human coming in contact with one.

Besides household pets, Norman said other animals including livestock especially horses, should also be vaccinated against rabies.

“We want people to understand that the rabies vaccine is safe,” Norman said.

Norman said Indiana State Department of Health, along with BOAH, recently launched www.in.gov/rabies, a new website that was designed to highlight information on rabies for the public, as well as medical and veterinary professionals.

“It’s a great website with lots of information at your fingertips,” said Norman, adding that the website contains a wide range of topics on rabies, including statistics on rabies cases and information and precautions to take to help stop the exposure to rabies, as well as steps to take if a pet or person is bitten by an animal that is suspected of having rabies.

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