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Rabid Bats Found In Louisville

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife

State health officials are asking residents in Jefferson County to take precautions around bats after three tested positive for rabies. 

Kentucky’s Department for Public Health discovered the cases after testing 18 bats during routine surveillance in recent days.  

“We are asking if there is direct contact, folks need to reach out to their local county health department. If you find a dead or sick bat, you can call us, Fish and Wildlife,” said state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Christine Casey.

The bats were discovered in the 40059 zip code in the area around Prospect. Two were discovered inside a neighborhood home while a third was found outside a different home. 

Across the state, officials have found rabies in 5 bats, which is typical by this time of the year. 

July is maternity season for bats, which means young bats are taking flight and more visible. Big brown bats are one of the state’s most common species and are more likely than others to be found roosting in residential homes. 

Rabies is a fatal disease spread through contact with the saliva of, or a scratch from, infected animals or people. It’s most commonly found in wild animals, though less than 1% of bats contract the disease.  In Kentucky, bats and skunks are the most common carriers of rabies. 

Louisville residents who encounter a bat in their house should avoid contact and call the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, which will arrange for collection and rabies-testing. 

“Bats have small, very sharp teeth, and you may not know that you have been bitten. Transmission of rabies can occur from even minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats. So please, never touch a bat,” said Connie Mendel, assistant director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

Louisville Metro Animal Services is providing rabies vaccinations for pets (as well as COVID-19 vaccinations for people) this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 201 Outer Loop. 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.