BETHLEHEM, Pa., (CBS) – Officials are searching for any child who handled a live bat at a park in Bethlehem as they must be evaluated for treatment of possible rabies exposure, according to a statement on the Bethlehem Health Bureau’s Facebook page.
According to the statement, on Friday, April 3, several children handled a live bat at Higbee Park in Bethlehem before it died. Officials say the bat was then transported to the PA Bureau of Laboratories for rabies testing, but was unable to be tested due to the bodily damage it sustained.
While several of the children who handled the bat have been identified, officials say there may be others that need to be located, as they must be evaluated for treatment of possible rabies exposure.
“I urge all parents whose children may have played at Higbee Park on April 3rd, to determine if their child had any contact with the bat, and if so, to contact the Bethlehem Health Bureau immediately,” said Bethlehem Health Director, Kristen Wenrich in the statement.
An exposure to rabies can be fatal for a human or other mammals, such as dogs and cats, according to officials.
Official say it is recommended that citizens never attempt to handle a wild or domesticated animal that is not their own, as a health and safety precaution.
All sick or injured animals should be reported to the local police department or animal control officer, according to officials.
Officials say pet owners are encouraged to keep dogs and cats up to date on rabies vaccine-per Pennsylvania law, all domesticated dogs and cats over three months of age must be vaccinated against rabies. Do not feed wildlife, stray or feral cats, or stray dogs, officials advise.
Anyone who is bitten, scratched, or otherwise exposed to an animal should seek prompt medical care, according to officials. Officials say by law, all medical care providers must report these cases to the local health department for investigation.
To report an actual or potential exposure to a wild or domesticated animal, officials say to call the Bethlehem Health Bureau at 610-865-7087.