The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is looking for anyone who had direct contact with a rabid wild bat found at the Oklahoma City Zoo October 1.
The bat was not part of the zoo’s animal collection and was found on the ground along a path between the Great EscApe habitat and the Big Rivers Café at approximately 1:45 p.m. Testing done at the OSDH Public Health Laboratory confirmed the presence of rabies.
Public health officials are advising anyone who may have touched the bat or was bitten by the bat on Oct. 1, between 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., to contact the OSDH epidemiologist-on-call at 405-271-4060 or 800-234-5963. Health officials believe that few zoo visitors encountered the rabid bat, but in the event that someone made physical contact by touching or handling the animal, it is essential that a rabies exposure assessment be done and recommendations for immunizations be provided as indicated. There is no risk of rabies exposure to a person who was in the general vicinity of the zoo grounds where the bat was found.
Rabies is a viral disease which affects the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms of the disease begin. The virus is found in the brain, spinal cord, and saliva of infected animals and is mainly transmitted through a bite from a rabid animal.
Wildlife known to spread rabies in Oklahoma are skunks and bats. There have been 40 cases of animal rabies, including three bats, statewide since the beginning of the year. This bat is the third rabid animal identified in Oklahoma County during 2017.