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Health officials expand search for anyone potentially exposed to rabid wild bat found at OKC Zoo

Oklahoma City Zoo

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is expanding its search for anyone who had direct contact with a rabid wild bat found at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Public health officials are now advising anyone that visited the zoo who may have touched or been bitten by a bat, which was acting unusual and having difficulty flying, between the dates of Friday, September 29 to Sunday, October 1, to contact the OSDH epidemiologist at 405-271-4060 or 800-234-5963.

The bat was not part of the zoo’s animal collection and was seen on the ground near the Great EscApe habitat and the Big Rivers Cafe. It was also seen near the zebra and giraffe habitats.

The OSDH Public Health Laboratory confirmed the bat was rabid through testing.

Health officials believe that a few zoo visitors encountered the rabid bat, but “in the event that someone made physical contact by touching or handling the animal, it is essential that a rabies exposure assessment be done and recommendations for immunizations be provided as indicated.”

The OSDH says there is no risk of rabies exposure to a person who was in the general vicinity of the zoo grounds where the bat was found.

Rabies is a viral disease which affects the central nervous system and is almost always fatal once symptoms of the disease begin. The virus is found in the brain, spinal cord, and saliva of infected animals and is mainly transmitted through a bite from a rabid animal.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been 40 cases of animal rabies, including three bats, statewide.

Click here for more information about rabies.