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Rabid bat found in Watertown home

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Jefferson County Public Health Service said Wednesday that a bat found in the city has tested positive for rabies.

Public Health said the state Department of Health laboratory reported the positive finding to the service.

The service said in a statement that the bat was located inside a home in the city. There were no known human exposures; however, a pet cat was exposed. The cat was not vaccinated against rabies and must be euthanized.

According to Public Health, rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. It can take several weeks to several months for rabies symptoms to appear. Early treatment after an exposure can prevent rabies in humans and in pets who are up to date on vaccination.

Any mammal can get rabies, but it is most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Animals with rabies do not necessarily display aggressive or erratic behavior but changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of rabies.

Bats that are on the ground, unable to fly, or active during the day are more likely than others to be rabid.

Even so, when any bat is found in a room with an unattended child or with any sleeping or incapacitated person, the bat should be tested for rabies.

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