The St. Charles County Department of Public Health received confirmation that a bat found in Lake Saint Louis this week tested positive for the rabies virus.
Department of Public Health Acting Director Sara Evers says that the bat was discovered in a home, and while the homeowner was not bitten, St. Charles County Public Health nurses are assessing the situation for any potential exposure to determine if there is a need for treatment. Most commonly spread by bats and skunks in Missouri, humans and pets can become exposed to rabies through bites or scratches by infected animals.
“Rabies is a dangerous virus found in the saliva of mammals that infects the nervous system,” says Evers. “The discovery of this infected animal serves as a reminder that annual vaccination is the best way to prevent rabies infection in pets and their owners and is required for all pets by St. Charles County Animal Control Ordinance Section 205.110. Rabies illness requires mandatory preventative actions and extensive treatment, so it is important that people and their pets avoid contact with live or dead wild or stray animals.”
In both humans and pets, common symptoms of rabies infection include fever, body ache/difficulty moving, neck stiffness, brain swelling, and paralysis. In animals, unusual or atypical behavior and foaming at the mouth also are common. If these symptoms develop, the result is rarely survivable — although human deaths in the United States are rare because of effective treatment procedures.
Including this latest finding there have been seven positive rabies cases in Missouri this year. This is the first case in St. Charles County since 2020. The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services collects data on rabies reports on a monthly basis, which can be found here.
All St. Charles County veterinarians can provide rabies vaccination and the accompanying rabies registration for their clients. This registration comes with an annual rabies tag that must be displayed on the animal’s collar according to the County Ordinance. Individuals needing financial assistance to obtain the vaccination and registration tag should contact the St. Charles County Pet Adoption Center at 636-949-7387.
Reporting of animal incidents and stray or potentially rabid animals also will help to prevent the spread of the disease. Whenever an individual or pet is bitten or scratched by an animal, cleanse the wound immediately with soap and water, seek any necessary medical care and alert the Division of Humane Services or your local law enforcement agency. Residents concerned about the presence of stray or potentially rabid animals on their property should call St. Charles County Animal Control at 636-949-7347 for domesticated animals or the Missouri Department of Conservation’s St. Charles County regional office at 636-441-4554 for wild animals.