As temperatures drop, bats and other animals often look for a new home indoors. This increases the chance for bats to have accidental contact with our family members and household pets (even our mostly “indoor” pets).
In Wisconsin, skunks and bats are by far the most likely animals to carry the rabies virus. Bats don’t show signs of rabies; it’s impossible to tell if they
carry the virus without laboratory testing. It’s possible to get rabies even
when you don’t see any bite marks from the animal.
Bat bites or scratches may be so small that you don’t even notice them. Rabies exposure is almost always through a bite, but rabies can also be transmitted if a rabid animal scratches a person or if its saliva is exposed to open skin.
The Health Department recommends the following steps to lower your
chance of getting rabies:
• Avoid contact with bats and all wild animals.
• Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets and livestock against rabies.
• Keep your pets on a leash when outdoors.
• Contact local associations if help is needed to shelter and find
homes for stray dogs and cats.
• Teach children not to go near any animals they don’t know. “Love
your own, leave others alone.”
• Don’t keep exotic or wild animals as pets.
• Keep screens in good shape and close any small openings where
bats could enter.
• People traveling to developing counties where rabies is common, or
who are at ongoing risk of possible rabies exposure (such as
veterinarians and animal control officers) should ask their doctor
about receiving pre-exposure rabies vaccinations.