Bat from Portsmouth tests positive for rabies

Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination

Posted 1/16/20

PORTSMOUTH — The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting the public that a brown bat found in the Common Fence Point section of Portsmouth earlier this week has tested …

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Bat from Portsmouth tests positive for rabies

Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting the public that a brown bat found in the Common Fence Point section of Portsmouth earlier this week has tested positive for rabies.

Because rabies is a fatal disease, anyone who may have had contact with this animal is urged to contact RIDOH as soon as possible.

The bat was discovered by an onlooker on Jan. 11 between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the intersection of Massachusetts Boulevard and Anthony Road in Portsmouth. 

The bat, which was acting sickly, was surrounded by a crowd of observers, according to RIDOH. On Jan. 14, the bat was submitted by a wildlife rehabilitation specialist to RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories for rabies testing. Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialists are permitted by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

The positive rabies test was confirmed on Jan. 15. 

Anyone who may have had direct contact with the bat should immediately call RIDOH’s Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 401/222-2577 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or 401/276-8046 after hours for treatment guidance. 

RIDOH should also be contacted if a pet may have come into contact with this bat.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies treatment must be started as soon as possible after exposure.

All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by state law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pets prevents them from contracting rabies and prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies through their pets.

RIDOH and DEM make the following recommendations to prevent rabies:

• Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination.

• Avoid all contact with and do not feed stray or free-roaming domestic animals.

• Avoid all contact with and do not feed wild animals.

• Do not feed your animals outdoors, as this will attract other animals. • This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats.

• Protect your pets by always maintaining control; walk dogs on a leash or let them play in a fenced yard, and do not let pets wander unsupervised.

• Report all animal bites to your city/town’s animal control officer.

Securely cover all garbage cans so wild animals cannot scavenge for food.

For more information, visit www.health.ri.gov/diseases/rabies.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.