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Potential Rabies Exposure Higher In Iowa As Bats Seek Shelter From Cooler Temperatures

With fall only a couple of weeks away, reports of bats inside Iowa homes are on the rise, leading to an increase in possible rabies exposures. Bats typically start making more indoor appearances around mid-September as nighttime temperatures cool. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), between one to two percent of bats tested annually in the state are positive for rabies and are one of only a handful of animal species in the region that serves as the primary transmission vector for humans. In human patients, rabies is almost always fatal once clinical signs appear. However, treatment via administration of rabies vaccines is highly effective if completed soon after the initial exposure. A person is considered potentially exposed if they have been in direct contact with a bat or have been in the same room as a bat and cannot be sure they were not bitten. When these situations occur, the bat should be captured for testing. In the rare case of confirmed rabies exposure, treatment must be administered as soon as possible. While timely treatment is critical, state health officials note the window is much longer than most people think. Incubation periods vary considerably, but three to eight weeks is generally the norm. For more information on what to do after a potential rabies exposure, follow the link included below.

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