Prevention includes knowledge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A family here in Dallas County have already had an encounter with a bat, which has resulted in a series of shots for a child who handled the animal, which tested positive for rabies.

While it&8217;s nothing to panic about, a good dose of common sense and a talk with children might prevent sickness or death.

Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals.

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Generally, people get rabies from an animal bite with rabies. Any wild mammal can have rabies &8212; raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat.

It&8217;s possible, but rare for people to get rabies by touching a rabid animal and exposing an open wound or getting saliva in the eyes, nose or mouth.

Rabies is fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that tens of thousands of people are successfully treated each year after being bitten by an animal that may have rabies. A few people die of rabies each year in the U.S. because they don&8217;t know about the risks.

Most of the human rabies cases

in the U.S. come from the virus from bats.

The CDC warns that what we know about bats might not be true.

For example, bats are not blind. They do not suck blood. Most do not have rabies.

They eat insects, including pests that plague crops, thus performing a valuable role in the ecosystem.

You really can&8217;t tell if a bat has rabies. A laboratory has to run a test on the animal to determine if it&8217;s infected.

However, if you see a bat in the day and in a place where bats don&8217;t usually show up, or if it can&8217;t fly or is dead, then it&8217;s more likely to be rabid.

The key: Don&8217;t handle any bat.

Also, teach your children, and follow these simple rules to prevent rabies:

Common sense and a little knowledge will help protect you and your family against rabies.