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Wild bat exposure at State Fairgrounds
Little Rock, Ark. – On Saturday, October 21, two individuals were exposed to a bat that was acting unusually in the horse barn at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds. The bat was not captured for testing, and these individuals were advised to begin rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). 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 a bat at the State Fairgrounds, 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 . The Arkansas Department of Health 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. There were no animals housed in this barn, so there were no known animal exposures.
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, click here.