A bat in Sarpy County has tested positive for rabies, health officials said Friday.

The bat is the first animal of 2019 to be confirmed with the virus in either Sarpy or Cass County, according to the Sarpy/Cass Health Department. The bat was found in a residence, and the residents have begun treatment based on state and federal protocols. 

Officials said residents should be aware that bats are active this time of year, which increases the possibility of exposure.

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Rabies affects the nervous system in humans and other mammals. A person can contract it through a bite, scratch or saliva of an infected animal. Health officials also cautioned residents to take potential exposures seriously. While rabies in humans is preventable through prompt medical care, it usually is otherwise fatal.

To protect yourself, your family and your pets from rabies:

  • If bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal or bat, wash the area with soap and water and seek medical attention.
  • Call your local animal control agency to report a bat in your living space. It is important not to touch, hit or destroy the animal. Do not try to remove it from your home. It may be possible to test the bat and avoid the need for rabies treatment.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date for pets and other animals.
  • Seek medical assistance if you suspect that you or your pets have been exposed to rabies.

For more information about rabies, visit cdc.gov/rabies.

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Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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