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Bat from Roger Williams Park Tests Positive for Rabies

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is alerting the public that a bat found in the area of the carousel and Japanese Garden at Roger Williams Park in Providence has tested positive for rabies. The bat was discovered on the ground by a park patron on May 21st.

Rabies is a fatal disease. Anyone who may have had direct contact with the bat should immediately call RIDOH's Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 401-222-2577 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or 401-276-8046 after hours. RIDOH should also be contacted if a pet may have come into contact with this bat.

The bat was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility and later euthanized when staff noticed that the bat was displaying symptoms of rabies. It was submitted for testing to RIDOH's State Health Laboratories on May 23rd.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies treatment must be started as soon as possible after exposure.

All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by State law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pets prevents them from contracting rabies and prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies through their pets.

RIDOH makes the following recommendations to prevent rabies:

- Make sure all dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccination. - Avoid all contact with and do not feed stray or free-roaming domestic animals. - Avoid all contact with and do not feed wild animals. - Do not feed your animals outdoors, as this will attract other animals. This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats. - Protect your pets by always maintaining control; walk dogs on a leash or let them play in a fenced yard, and do not let pets wander unsupervised. - Report all animal bites to your city/town's animal control officer. - Securely cover all garbage cans so wild animals cannot scavenge for food.

For more information, visit www.health.ri.gov/rabies.

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