Residents warned to limit contact with bats

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Health officials in northern Kentucky are warning residents there to limit their contact with bats after an usually high number of people have gotten rabies vaccines due to exposure to the animals.

They say 13 people exposed to bats this year have decided to get vaccinated because bats commonly carry the disease, which is fatal if not treated.

Northern Kentucky Health Department spokeswoman Emily Gresham-Werle told The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/18WblUo) that usually only two or three people each year receive the vaccination because of exposure to bats.

Local and state health officials have speculated weather and loss of bat habitat have contributed to the high number.

“The weather we’ve had this summer has been relatively mild and wet,” Gresham-Werle said. “That means the bug population has been high. Bats eat bugs, so bats have had plenty of food and therefore they can reproduce more.”

She said the recent vaccinations have been for Kenton County residents but the problem reaches across the region.

Officials say the best way to avoid the vaccine shots after being bitten is to catch the bat and have it tested.

“Remember that exposure to bats, and all bites from mammals, are required to be reported to the health department,” said Health Director Lynne Saddler.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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