UPDATED: Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 9:18pm
BAYLOR SCOTT AND WHITE HEALTH PRESS RELEASE — As spring temperatures rise, bats begin their migration process and will look for places to roost. Over the weekend, the Scott & White Memorial Hospital staff discovered at least two bats on the campus. Some of the largest bat colonies in the United States are located in the Central Texas area, so it is not uncommon to find bats in the area and for bats to sometimes find their way into buildings and homes.
At least one of the bats was observed by Scott & White staff flying on one of the patient floors. The bat was not aggressive, and nothing about the bat or the way in which it behaved indicated it was infected with rabies. We were unable to capture the bat for testing. In the interest of patient safety, we are taking the preventive measure of proactively vaccinating 15 patients who potentially could have been exposed. It’s important to note that there was no witnessed contact between the bat and any patients nor was the bat observed in a patient room.
Since bat bites are not always detected or visible, the decision to vaccinate before the on-set of symptoms is important, as this disease is generally fatal once symptoms begin. In accordance to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Texas Department of Health and Human Service, this course of action is appropriate in the interest of patient health and safety.
Scott & White is in the process of evaluating our facilities to see if other bats might be present, and we are taking every precaution necessary to protect our patients and visitors and prevent future occurrences. Members of the public are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and adhere to the following tips should a bat be encountered:
- In general, if you encounter a bat, do not touch it
- Contact your local animal control agency or local health department if a bat is found.
- If any possible exposure to a bat has occurred, quarantine the bat if possible and contact your local animal control agency or your local health department for testing.
For more information on rabies, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies.