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Rabid Bats Spur State Health Department To Remind Oklahomans To Stay Up To Date On Vaccines

Flickr User Noel Reynolds, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The discovery of a second rabid bat in two months in Chandler has spurred the Oklahoma State Department of Health to issue a release reminding Oklahomans of the dangers of rabies and the importance of vaccinations.

“Oklahoma is seeing more cases of rabies in the state this year than previous years,” said State Public Health Veterinarian LeMac’ Morris, in a statement. “With more sightings of skunks and bats, this is the perfect time to remind pet owners about the importance of vaccinating family pets, and even livestock.”

State Epidemiologist Jared Taylor said bats and skunks are the two main carriers of the disease in Oklahoma.

"We should always assume that it is present in both of those species and act accordingly," Taylor said. "Give a wide berth to any situation where you see a skunk or bat acting aberrantly."

Such behavior could include aggression, stupor, lack of fear, and the classic rabies symptom of foaming at the mouth.

Taylor, who plays a significant role in the state's COVID-19 response, said the discovery of the rabid bats serves as a good reminder to Oklahomans that routine health concerns haven't disappeared during the pandemic.

"Let's not forget that there are other diseases and other health threats out there," Taylor said. "This isn't the seventh plague or even the fourth plague of 2020 or whatever, this is just something that we always are aware of."

"If you find a disabled or dead bat in your home or camp please have it tested for rabies," a statement from OSDH reads. "If you suspect your pet or any animal has been exposed to a rabid animal, immediately contact your local veterinarian or animal control facility.

"Rabies vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, sheep, cattle, and horses. Oklahoma requires a veterinarian to vaccinate dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies by the time the animal is 4 months of age, and at regular intervals thereafter."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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