Campus bat tests positive for rabies

A bat found on the Sam Houston State University campus has tested positive for rabies, according to a report from the City of Huntsville Health Department.

The bat was found Sept. 28 when a resident of the Bearkat Village Apartments opened her door and the bat crawled into the room. The apartment resident reported she was not injured by the bat and reported it to the University Police Department.

Michael Clarke of the City Health Department notified the university Wednesday that the bat had tested positive for the rabies virus.

Monte Thies, professor of biology at Sam Houston State, who has studied bats including those in the Huntsville area, said that he is unsure if there is more rabies in bat colonies these days or that more attention has been focused on rabid bats, especially in the Houston area.

Thies said that he had to stop research on one colony of bats four years ago when seven of 11 tested were positive for the virus.

“If you see a bat and it’s obviously not healthy, especially in the daylight, call the Health Department,” said Thies. “If you come in contact with a bat, also call the Health Department.”

Other than that, he said, bats have been doing insect control work throughout their existence and he believes that estimates that about one or two per six or seven million have the rabies virus are probably still accurate.

The best advice, he said, is “leave them alone.”

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