PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Health officials are warning Oakmont residents of a possible rabies risk.
Most bats do not have rabies. They eat bugs and mind their own business.
But bats are the most common transmitter of the potentially fatal disease to humans.
On Aug. 8, at Riverside Park in Oakmont, the body of a bat was found near the bleachers of the Third Street Baseball Field.
“In a place that’s so populated, I was kind of surprised to hear about it,” said Melissa Havran.
Havran often runs in the park with her son, Michael, in his baby jogger.
“I run four to six times a week down here,” she said. “So it’s a little scary, especially with all the kids playing in the park.”
Once that suspect bat was discovered, no chances were taken. The carcass was sent to the Allegheny County Health Department for testing.
“We found that there was rabies virus antigen present,” says Dr. Robert Wadowsky, the director of the Public Health Department laboratory.
This is was the 11th reported rabies case in the county this year. Others affected have been cats, raccoons and groundhogs.
“The first step that is done is the brain material is removed,” said Dr. Wadowsky.
A section of the Oakmont bat’s brain clearly shows the rabies virus in apple-green speckles scattered throughout.
Rabies is nothing to fool with, says Dr. Wadowsky.
“Once the infection begins to proceed without treatment, it’s very difficult – almost impossible – to control a fatal outcome from occurring,” he says.
The Health Department posted a sign on the back stop at the field warning anyone who believes that they, or their pets, came in contact with the infected bat, to call them right away.
Earlier this month, health officials also warned residents of Spring Hill after a rabid cat was found in the neighborhood.
A family of raccoons also prompted concern in Dormont after some children were seen playing with the baby raccoons.
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