If you have media inquiries, please contact the Office of Health Communications at email@example.com.
« Go Back
Rabid wild bat captured at Little Rock Zoo
Little Rock, Ark. – On Saturday, September 23, the Little Rock Zoo received a report of a wild bat flying erratically on Zoo grounds. The bat tested positive for rabies at the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) Glen F. Baker Public Health Laboratory. Although we have not yet heard any reports that the bat came in contact with anyone, as a precaution, we are asking individuals who may have encountered the bat to contact the ADH.
If you or someone you know had direct contact with the bat at the Little Rock Zoo on Saturday, please call the ADH at 501-661-2381 during normal business hours (Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or call the after-hours number at 800-554-5738 for a risk assessment to determine if rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is needed. Alternatively, you can email the ADH. ADH does not pay for or provide rabies PEP but can provide consultation to citizens and healthcare providers who have questions about whether it is necessary.
On Saturday, Zoo staff observed unusual behavior by the bat and alerted Zoo veterinary staff. The wild bat, which was not part of the Zoo’s collection, was captured. One of the Zoo’s veterinarians, dressed in appropriate personal protective equipment, collected the animal and humanely euthanized it. There was no known exposure to the Zoo’s animal collection.
The Zoo’s standard operating procedure for wildlife includes due diligence checks and reviews of wild animals to ensure they are disease-free to protect the animal collection, staff, and guests. The Zoo captures animals exhibiting neurologically comprised behavior to test for health status and everyone’s safety.
Although bats are an essential part of our ecosystem, they can potentially pose a health risk when they are in close contact with humans. A very small percentage of bats (less than 1%) are infected with rabies, and these bats will become ill and behave abnormally, making them more likely to encounter humans. Rabies is a deadly disease that can be transmitted to people through a bite from an infected animal or more rarely from infectious saliva directly contacting a person’s eyes, nose, mouth, or open wound. The rabies virus cannot be transmitted through casual contact or being near an infected animal without direct contact. When appropriate, rabies PEP should be given to exposed individuals to prevent the development of rabies illness. There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms start, and it is nearly 100% fatal, so timely medical intervention is required.
For more information about rabies, visit https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/rabies.