Five treated as precaution for rabies from infected bat
Five people are undergoing treatment for exposure to rabies after a dead bat discovered in their Spring Road home tested positive for the disease, which if untreated, is fatal.
And Animal Control Officer Paul Miller said a second wild animal in town -- this time a raccoon -- also recently tested positive.
The Springer Road residents discovered the dead bat on the floor of their house on Saturday, Miller said, and scooped it into a plastic container and contacted the Animal Control Department.
Test results from a state virology lab on the bat came back positive Wednesday.
As a precaution, the Springer Road couple and three of their grandchildren who were in the house at the time have begun post-exposure treatment at Bridgeport Hospital.
He said because bats have such small teeth, there is no way of knowing whether there was any contact with the house's occupants while they were asleep. The prudent course of action, Miller said, is to begin the five-week treatment of shots because once someone begins to show symptoms of rabies, it is too late.
"You can't wait," he said. "Once you get the symptoms, it's 100 percent fatal."
Miller referred to a the case of a young girl in Greenwich. In 1995, the 13-year-old contracted rabies from a bat in or near her home. Symptoms of the disease began to show in the girl Sept. 19, and she died Oct. 3.
In the second incident, which happened Sunday, a Woodside Circle resident's coonhound bit a sick raccoon on the home property. Animal Control officers were able to capture the raccoon, and it, too, was sent to the state lab. Town officials were notified Wednesday that it had tested positive for rabies.
Since then, Miller said Friday that he has left several message for the dog's owner, advising them of the results.
He said the dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination, and its owners have been advised to quarantine the dog at home for 45 days. Miller said while the dog may be safe from rabies infection, there is no telling if the owners came into contact with any contaminated raccoon saliva when they attended to their pet.
Miller said the best thing for anyone to do if a pet comes in contact with a wild animal suspected of having rabies is to use gloves when touching the animal and sequestering it in a garage or room by itself for at least an hour. He said the rabies virus does not live long once it comes in contact with air.
Rabies symptoms in wild animals can vary, but Miller said a sick animal will often act like it is drunk -- falling over, swaying or moving in circles. These animals will also bite anything, even car tires, because they are suffering severe pain. Normally, Miller said, wildlife should run off when confronted by humans.
Miller said that rabies cases appear to be on the upswing in the region, but added the incidence often goes in cycles. After cases hit a peak, he said, and the infected animals die off, the number of reported cases slows.