Midstate woman wakes up to find rabid bat sitting on her - WSMV News 4

Midstate woman wakes up to find rabid bat sitting on her shoulder

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Montgomery County Animal Control Director Tim Clifton has a normal routine checking on animals in his care and going on welfare calls. But a call about a bat bite in a Clarksville home this week was far from his normal.

"It's the first one that I've done since I've been here," he said.

A woman said she woke up and found a bat sitting on her shoulder.

"She woke up and she said it was sitting on her shoulder, and she didn't know for sure if it had bit her or if it had scratched her or what," Clifton said.

Clifton said the bat was submitted to the state public health lab where it tested positive for rabies. The woman, who lives near the Dunbar Cave area, was treated at the hospital.

"You wake up in the middle of the night and you find a bat on your shoulder, the first thing I'm doing is I'm running to the emergency room. You don't play with rabies," Clifton said.

Dunbar Cave Ranger Amy Wallace said that bat bites are extremely rare in Tennessee.

But Dunbar Cave does see its share of bats, mostly red bats and a type of bat called pipistrelle that people could encounter.

"The first thing they need to do is to get the bat so that they have it. Use gloves, so that you're not bitten, put it in a box, and then you need to get it to either animal control or the health department so that it can be tested," Wallace said.

The health department says they've only seen 19 cases of rabies in Tennessee this year, mostly in wildlife.

Clifton is quick to assure that this is just an isolated case.

"I don't think there's any reason for panic by anybody. It's just something we need to be aware of," he said.

Animal control officials say the bat was taken to a local veterinarian and was euthanized. They say pets have a tendency to get bitten by bats more often, so make sure your pets' rabies shots are up to date.

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