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Grand Teton visitor bitten by bat

Grand Teton National Park reports a park visitor was bitten by a bat that tested positive for rabies.

The visitor was part of an organized group near Jenny Lake. The bat fell from a tree onto the visitor’s shoulder. As the visitor tried to brush it off, the bat bit the person’s hand. The bat was captured in a plastic bag and park rangers were called to help.

While the visitor was treated at St. John’s Medical Center, the bat was sent to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory for testing. When test results were positive for rabies, the visitor was contacted and immediately began post-exposure treatment.

“The group leader did the right thing by safely capturing the bat and reporting this situation to park rangers, which assured that life-saving procedures were followed,” said Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail.

Park officials said rabies is a rare, but real concern. It is almost always fatal, but completely preventable if treated before symptoms begin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vast majority of rabies cases reported each year to occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and feral cats.

Human-bat exposure can happen in natural and developed settings, such as in or around older log buildings. To limit human encounters with bats, close outside doors at all times, especially around dawn and dusk, and open windows should have screens without holes.

Teton County Health Department reminds residents and visitors that if they encounter a bat and may have been potentially exposed to try to properly capture the bat and submit it to a veterinarian office for testing.

People who have had contact with a bat should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Post exposure treatment is recommended when:

Contact with a bat, Waking up in a room with a bat, or Witnessing a bat in a room with a previously unattended child, person with a mental or cognitive disability, or intoxicated individual.

You can find more information here.

At least 12 species of bats have been found in Grand Teton National Park. Typically, less than 1% of bats have rabies. There have been five bats that have tested positive for rabies in Wyoming this year.

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