A silver-haired bat in the town of Conesus has tested positive for rabies treatment, according to the Livingston County Department of Health.
The department was advised of the positive test on June 30 by the New York State Health Department laboratory, said County Public Health Director Jennifer Rodriguez.
The bat had been discovered post-mortem on June 29, according to Mark Grove, the county health department’s environmental health director.
“It was initially believed that there could have been a human exposure while it was still alive. During the course of testing our investigation leads us to believe there was no actual human exposure,” Grove said in an email to The Livingston County News.
Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the central nervous system in mammals. It is most frequently found in raccoons, skunks, and bats in Livingston County, though cases have also occurred in cats, woodchucks and cows.
This is the second animal reported to have tested positive for rabies in Livingston County this year. In May, a raccoon was confirmed to have tested positive.
In 2019, there were three reported positive tests: a raccoon in Lima on Oct. 2, a bat recovered in Lakeville tested positive on July 30, and a fox in Mount Morris was confirmed to have rabies on May 6.
There were two confirmed rabies cases in 2018.
It is important to note that there is no way to tell if an animal is rabid just by looking at it, said Rodriguez.
Wild and feral animals should always be avoided. Signs of rabies in wildlife include: inability to walk, appearance of drunkenness, unwillingness to drink water or eat, drooling, aggressive behavior, or any significant change in temperament.
All potential rabies exposures should be reported to the county Department of Health. The department can be reached by phone at (585) 243-7270 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
All mammals, including unvaccinated dogs, cats, and farm animals, are at risk for getting rabies.
State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations, beginning at four months of age. An unvaccinated pet that comes into contact with a rabid animal must be kept in strict confinement for six months or be euthanized. Free rabies clinics are offered for dogs, cats, and ferrets every year in Livingston County. For information on clinic dates, contact the health department. Pre-registration is required to accommodate COVID-19 health and safety precautions. Pre-registration may be made through the online portal on the county Environmental Health website at www.livingstoncounty.us/eh or by calling the county Department of Health.
The Department of Health shares the following tips to help prevent rabies:
■ Stay away from unfamiliar animals, either wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Be suspicious of wild animals that are unusually tame or aggressive, especially those that attack your pets.
■ If you are bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water, seek medical attention and report the incident to the Livingston County Department of Health.
■ Avoid wild and feral animals, especially if the animal is showing any sign of rabies.
■ Be a responsible pet owner by keeping your pet’s vaccinations current. Getting your pets vaccinated can help stop the spread of rabies from wild animals to humans.
■ Do not attract raccoons, stray dogs, stray cats or other wild animals to your yard by feeding them.
■ Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by an animal.
■ By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies. Make sure horses and valuable livestock are also up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
■ Keep family pets indoors at night. Don’t leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
■ Wear gloves when handling pets after any involvement with suspected rabid wild animals. Pet owners should keep a pair of thick gloves handy for just such situations. Bathe pets after wildlife encounters using rubber gloves.
■ If a bat is found in your home or cabin, do not let it go. Isolate it in a single room and contact the Livingston County Department of Health to discuss the potential for exposure. In some cases the bat can be tested for rabies. Immediately report any possible contact with bats, especially contact with sleeping persons, unattended children, or individuals with impairments.
If you have any question or would like more information on rabies or rabies vaccination clinics, please contact the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7280 or visit www.livingstoncounty.us/eh.