Rabies alert issued in Granite Shoals

By Glynis Crawford Smith
The Highlander
A dead bat found in Granite Shoals has been confirmed as infected with rabies and residents are being urged to report any others found in the area.
Granite Shoals Animal Control retrieved the dead bat from a local residence on April 5. The bat was submitted for rabies testing to the Department of State Health Services and has been found to be positive for the disease. It was one of four reported this year in Burnet County, TDSHS reported.
“We ask that any person that comes in contact with a bat, dead or alive please contact Granite Shoals Police Department immediately,” said Officer Ginnie Kirkpatrick. “Please remember to not touch any bat for any reason at any time. We also ask that you make sure that your animals stay current on their vaccinations at all times.” 
Reports and questions about the alert in the city may be directed to the Granite Shoals Police Department non-emergency number, 830-693-3611; to animal control in other towns, to the Burnet County Sheriff's Office, 512-756-8080, or to the Department of State Health Services Zoonosis Control at 254-778-6744.
“We are a high-risk county, said Juliette Madrigal, MD, the Burnet County Health Authority, noting that a bat found at a Marble Falls elementary school this year also had tested positive for rabies.  
A rabid skunk found in Burnet County made a total of four cases of identified by TDSHS this year. In 2015, 19 cases were reported, nine of them bats. Of 31 cases in 2014, seven were bats. Cases in Llano County dropped from 45 in 2014 to 28 last year and eight so far this year.
“We are often the number one county in the state for more than one reason,” Dr. Madrigal said. “First, we are a rural county, but also people take time to report and we have a very good veterinary system.”
“In some urban settings people can go every other year for vaccinations, but here we urge people to vaccinate their pets and horses every year,” she continued. “We had a case a few years back of a horse—a racehorse actually—that became infected. We wound up having to inoculate 20 people. A $20 shot could have saved the animal's life and saved endangering 20 people.” 
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that invades the central nervous system of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Once contracted it is almost universally fatal.  Once an ordeal, treatment for humans exposed are now almost painless injections in the arm of rabies immune globulin. Still, treatment must begin as immediately as possible, making it important to report potentially infected animals.
A wide variety of mammals can contract or transmit the rabies, but it is most often noticed in bats, foxes, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, dogs, cats and even livestock.
Due to highly successful pet-vaccination programs, transmission from dogs in the U.S. is rare, eliminating the vast majority of human cases. 
According to Bat Conservation International, the vast majority of bats do not have rabies and bats do not often spread the disease to other animals, but the organization provides useful information: “Rabies is nearly always transmitted by a bite, although non-bite exposures can result from contact between infected saliva or nervous tissues and open wounds or the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth. Bites during careless handling are the primary source of rabies exposure from bats.
“You cannot get rabies from just seeing a bat or simply being in a room with a bat or from contact with bat guano (feces), urine or blood.” 
Any animal bite should of course be reported immediately to a doctor and animal authority. Texas MedClinic suggests if you wake to find a bat in your room, assume you’ve been bitten. Also, if you find a bat near a person who can’t report a bite, such as a small child or a person with a disability, assume that person has been bitten.
This is the season when mostly female, pregnant Mexican Free-tailed bats migrate to Central Texas. They love the limestone caverns here, but they can be found in buildings and other structures as well. The colony beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin may be the most famous the bats can range widely to forage and roost.
Once home to over two million Mexican free-tail bats, Longhorn Cavern now has a small population of solitary eastern pipistrelle bats.  Devil's Sinkhole in Blanco County reports a seasonal colony of 1-4 million Mexican Free-tailed bats. Old Tunnel State Park near Fredericksburg has a similar population and the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve south of Mason is one of the largest bat nurseries in the country.
Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (2 votes)