Clay County health officials issued a statement Friday morning regarding a bat that tested positive for rabies.
The bat, captured in a home within the city limits of Brazil, was brought to the Clay County Health Department earlier this week. The health department took the animal to Rodgers Veterinary Hospital.
Dr. Rick Rodgers sent the animal to the Indiana State Board of Health. On Thursday, Rodgers received notice the bat had tested positive for rabies.
"This is the first known positive since I've been in the area," Dr. Rodgers said, adding he has run his practice in Clay County since 1976.
Rodgers said the bat was found in a home in the city. He said the occupants of the home were concerned as animals and children live in the house.
"As far as they know, no one was scratched or bitten," Dr. Rodgers said. "But they wanted it tested to be sure and I'm glad they did. You don't know if anybody was bitten or scratched."
"Until this time, everything has turned up negative. It's not been a big concern in the past."
Dr. Rodgers also serves as the President of the Clay County Board of Health.
He said his office sent the animal to the Indiana State Board of Health, which tested the bat's brain tissue. When the results came back positive, the board of health immediately called CCHD, which then provided the information to Rodgers.
"We received the report within one day," he said. "It really bothers me. We've always tested everything and I've always been confident that everything has been fine. Now, we have a bat that was positive and we may have (other animals) that are positive."
Rodgers said, in the past, he's had several residents call and inform him of finding bats in virtually all locations.
"Bats are nocturnal," he said, "but like any other wild animal, it's best to leave them alone.
"The problem is, there is no cure for rabies. Bats can be carriers without dying from the disease, and that's why it's so dangerous."
He said if residents find bats in their home, they should try to capture the bat.
"That's the tricky part," he said.
He added residents should attempt to capture the animal without touching it, suggesting using tongs.
"You have to try to get it without handling it," he said. "Do not handle them. Pick them up with something."
Then, he said the bat must be "refrigerated" in a leak-proof container. From there, the health department or a local veterinarian should be notified if the people capturing the bat want it tested.
"(Rabies) vaccine is available, but most hospitals don't stock it," Rodgers said, due to the expense.
He said residents who feel they should have dogs or cats receive additional vaccination should do so if they believe the animal might have been exposed to a bat, saying it is state law for animals to be vaccinated for rabies. In addition, he added the pet owner should "keep a close eye on them for at least 45 days. Just look for any behavioral changes."
The family that dealt with the situation called The Brazil Times Friday afternoon to confirm the difficulty in getting the rabies vaccination.
Members of the family, who will remain anonymous, told The Brazil Times they went to St. Vincent Clay Hospital to receive shots Thursday evening.
While waiting for confirmation, the family of four were notified that Putnam County Hospital had the necessary vaccinations.
The family then traveled to Putnam County, but were told the hospital would not administer the vaccines until talking directly to the Putnam County Director of Health.
Two of the family members, both children, did receive shots in Putnam County.
The adults traveled back to Clay County late in the evening and were administered shots, but had to go to separate hospitals Friday afternoon to conclude the vaccination process.
Check it out
A bat found in the city limits of Brazil was recently tested for rabies and came back with a positive result. Rodgers Veterinary Hospital owner Dr. Rick Rodgers said the website www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dcrd/rabies/bats-and-..., offers the do's and don'ts of rabies and bats.