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Rabies

Bats - Rabies PreventionRabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system, causing encephalitis. It is always fatal once symptoms appear. Rabies can be prevented in persons who have come into contact or have been bitten by wild animals through prompt administration of anti-rabies vaccine and rabies immune globulin. Hundreds of rabies post exposure prophylactic treatments are initiated annually in Arizona to prevent rabies from developing after exposure.

In Arizona, the principal rabies hosts are bats, skunks, and foxes. These animals carry their own distinct rabies virus variants or "strains". When rabies activity within these animal groups increases, rabies can "spillover" into other mammal species, such as bobcats, coyotes, javelina, cats, dogs, horses, cows, etc. Every year, approximately 30 people are exposed to rabid animals in Arizona. People who are exposed must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.

In Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposures to humans because rabid bats often fall to the ground where they are easily accessible to people and pets. Bats are generally not aggressive. Exposure to rabid bats usually occurs when people pick up or handle a sick or dead bat. Other rabies exposures occur when people try to approach or feed wild animals, or in some cases, are attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats, and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone. The last documented human rabies death in Arizona was in 1981.

Because rabies is a fatal disease, the goal of the Pima Animal Care Center is, first, to prevent human exposure to rabies through education and, second, to respond to any cases in which exposure to a rabid animal might have occurred and impound the animal for quarantine or laboratory testing to determine whether or not exposure occurred.

How can rabies be prevented?

  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if it appears friendly."Love yourPrevent Rabies own, leave other animals alone" is a good principle for children to learn.
  • Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Be a responsible pet owner by keeping vaccinations current for all dogs (it is the law!), cats and ferrets. Keep your cats and ferrets inside and your dogs under supervision. Call Pima Animal Care to remove stray animals from your neighborhood and consider having your pets spayed or neutered.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters or occupied spaces in homes, churches, schools and other similar areas where they might contact people and pets.
  • Call Pima Animal Care Center to report contact or possible exposure to Bats or Skunks.

Bats

When people think about bats, they often imagine things that are not true. Bats are not blind. They are neither rodents nor birds. They will not suck your blood and most do not have rabies. Bats play key roles in ecosystems around the globe, from rain forests to deserts, especially by eating insects, including agricultural pests, and by seed dispersal and pollination activities. The best protection we can offer these unique mammals is to learn more about their habits and recognize the value of living safely with them.

Bat-Proofing your home

How can I keep bats out of my home?
Some bats live in buildings and there may be no reason to evict them if there is little chance for contact with people. However, bats should always be prevented from entering rooms of your home. For assistance with bat-proofing your home, contact a pest control company or a wildlife conservation agency. If you choose to do the bat-proofing yourself here are some suggestions. Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry into your living quarters. Any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch should be caulked. Use window screens, chimney caps and draft-guards beneath doors to attics, fill electrical and plumbing holes with steel wool or caulking and ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.

Additional bat-proofing can prevent bats from roosting in attics or buildings by covering outside entry points. Observe where the bats exit at dusk and exclude them by loosely hanging clear plastic sheeting or bird netting over these areas. Bats can crawl out and leave, but cannot re-enter. After the bats have excluded, the openings can be permanently sealed. For more information about bat-proofing your home contact Bat Conservation International.

If you find a bat in your home and you are not sure no human or pet exposure has occurred, confine the bat to a room by closing all doors and windows leading out of the room and contact the Pima Animal Care Center immediately.
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Animal Care Center

4000 N. Silverbell Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85745

(520) 243-5900

HOURS:
Weekdays: Noon until 7 p.m.
Weekends: 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Closed the last Sunday of 
every month

Ajo Substation:
1259 Well Road
Ajo, AZ 85321

(520) 387-7502

Ajo Substation Hours:
11 a.m.-1 p.m. MWF
4:30-6:30 p.m. W


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