The bat that bit a young girl last weekend in the East Valley has tested positive for rabies, according to the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory.
The young girl is expected to be OK but is receiving post-exposure shots for rabies.
Officials at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said the 7-year-old girl was at her grandparents' home and put her hand into a bush where she was bitten by the bat.
Arizona Public Health Department is urging parents and teachers to remind students to never touch a bat, whether it is dead or alive.
This is the first confirmed rabid bat in Maricopa County this year.
Maricopa County had five animals confirmed with rabies in 2011 that included three bats, one bobcat, and one javelina. That was the fewest number of confirmed rabid animals in more than 10 years.
Once rabies is present in a human it can be fatal. If you think you have had contact with an animal you suspect of being rabid, especially bats, you should get medical attention immediately.
Even though any mammal can contract rabies, the most common animals in Arizona to carry the disease are bats, skunks, and foxes.
Most animals infected with rabies will show unusual behavior that can include: wild animals that show no fear of people or pets, nocturnal animals that are active in daylight and bats being found on the ground, in swimming pools, or that have been caught by a pet.
A few precautions that can be taken to help prevent the public from getting infected against rabies are:
People and pets should stay away from wild animals. Do not pick up, touch, or feed wild animals; especially sick, wounded, or unfamiliar animals.
Do not rescue animals you think have been abandoned. If you think an animal is abandoned, call Arizona Game and Fish
Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be vaccinated properly
Vaccinate all dogs and cats against rabies. Your pet should be kept in a fenced-in area.
When out in the wilderness camping, hunting, or fishing keep your pet on a leash and do not allow them to wander
Do not disturb roosting bats. If you find a bat on the ground do not touch it.
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