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Officials say two rabid bats found in St. Joseph County

Two rabid bats found in St. Joseph County. // WSBT 22

It's not something we expect to see during the cold temperatures of winter

This warm spell has made bats more active.

Two rabid bats have been discovered in St. Joseph County.

How realistic is it for people to come in contact with a rabid animal? It's very slim considering the person or their pets must be bitten or scratched by a rabid bat to contract rabies.

The Humane Society says people should not be alarmed.

However just because it isn't common, doesn't mean there's no danger.

“Rabies is actually lethal in people and in dogs. So if you are exposed to it, by the time you see the signs unfortunately usually you die from it," said Veterinarian Jennifer Anderson.

Anderson is a veterinarian at Lincolnway Veterinary Clinic.

She says people can get shots if they test positive for rabies.

"The best thing we can do for people and their pets to protect both of them is to vaccinate them," said Anderson.

Rabies can be passed from pets to humans, but the likelihood isn't high.

"The risk to a pet is very slim because they do literally have to have a bite. They have to get into a scuffle with a wild animal or a bat. But it's very uncommon for dogs, cats, people to get exposed," said Anderson.

Anderson said rabies is a year-round risk.

"It's always there it's just that in the winter animals aren't as mobile, so we don't tend to see them with the side effects of rabies," said Anderson.

"They have been there since the summer, bats don't fly in the winter," said Jim Sheffield, Wildlife Control operator.

Sheffield receives calls daily for bats in homes.

"When we get a warm day like we just recently had, a little warm snap. They wake up, they're lethargic. They're disorientated. They aren't sure where they are at, they can't remember how they got in there," said Sheffield.

Sheffield says 99-percent of bats do not have rabies, but if one is spotted in your house, assume it does.

"But when you have one, you're always going to have another. So try to seal the holes around the pipes, the wires, the closets. Any place there might be a hole to the inner wall," said Sheffield.

Both experts say if you or a pet has any contact with a bat to seek immediate medical attention and capture the bat without damaging the head, so it can be properly tested.

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