Rabies alert warns parents about bats

March 19, 2002

Seeking to prevent human exposure to the rabies virus, city health officials urged parents yesterday to teach their children an important lesson -- don't touch bats.

As spring arrives, health officials said, children are more likely to encounter baby bats that are learning to fly and might land in play areas, under porches or in garages. The rabies virus can be transmitted through a bat's bite or infectious material, such as saliva, coming into contact with a person's eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.

Studies show that fewer than 1 percent of flying bats carry rabies, but up to 15 percent of sick bats harbor the disease, according to city health officials. Of 75 bats tested for rabies last year, five tested positive.

The city had nine reported cases of bat-to-human exposure last year and 18 in 2000.

Information: the Bureau of Animal Control, 410-396-4688.

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