Rabies is a less-common disease in Marshall County but not unheard of. It is a fatal but preventable disease. It is found throughout the United State, mostly in wild warm-blooded animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. In Indiana, the most common vector for Rabies is the bat. “It is important to seek medical attention when you have an interaction that may have led to you being exposed to rabies. Marshall County had the tragedy of losing a child to rabies in 2006 and it is not something we want to be repeated,” warns Dr. Holm, the Health Officer for the Marshall County Health Department. Rabies is rare in Indiana, however, it is not eradicated. So it is important to be aware when there is a possible exposure the proper treatment is adhered to.
To reduce the risk of exposure, you should check your house for bats. Oftentimes, bats are found in attics and it is important to work with professionals to remove them from your dwelling if you are unable to safely do it yourself. Very few bats in Indiana test positive for rabies. The Indiana State Department of Health Laboratories reported only 3% of bats tested positive with a total of 13 testings positive in 2018. The Marshall County Health Department will only assist in testing for rabies upon suspicion of someone being exposed. If you find a bat in your home and believe you or someone living there may have recently been exposed, it is advised to safely capture it and bring it to the health department for testing. If you cannot safely capture the bat yourself, work with a professional pest control company to capture the bat for testing and to remove all bats from your living space. If you would like to send the bat to be tested on your own, view the state’s website on how to do so.
Rabies is less common in dogs, raccoons, skunks, and foxes in Marshall County. However, if you or a family member is bitten by one of these animals and you are worried about the possibility of rabies, call the health department at 574-935-8597 or visit the State’s website regarding rabies policies and procedures.
It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to you or your family’s health. So, if there is ever a time you believe you or someone you know has been bitten by a bat or any rabid animal, contact your physician and local health department to follow the appropriate steps to ensure you and your loved ones are properly cared for. The number for the environmental division at the health department is 574-935-8597.