Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is working to identify several individuals who may have been exposed to rabies through the handling of a rabid bat in Bangor.
Maine CDC is investigating the circumstances of the potential exposure, which occurred during the weekend of March 16 and 17. The live bat was found in the vicinity of the Shaw House, a youth shelter in Bangor. It was passed among several individuals who handled it with their bare hands across several locations in the Bangor area. The bat later tested positive for rabies at Maine's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory. Those who had direct skin contact with the bat, and did not wear gloves or use a cloth or other barrier, are at risk of acquiring rabies.
Bats that exhibit unusual behavior, such as being easily approached, active during the day, or unable to fly, could be infected with rabies.
Rabies is fatal, but preventable if treated without delay after exposure. Individuals who had direct skin contact with the bat should start rabies prophylaxis as soon as possible. Rabies prophylaxis includes two different injections: Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG) and the rabies vaccine.
Rabies is spread when infected animals bite or scratch another animal or person. The virus can also be spread if saliva or tissue from the brain or spinal cord gets into broken skin or the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Maine CDC requests that anyone who had direct skin contact with a bat in the Bangor area during the weekend of March 16 and 17 contact their healthcare provider to discuss the risks and determine if they need prophylaxis. Individuals may also contact Maine CDC directly at 1-800-821-5821.
Only those who handled the bat with bare hands are at risk for rabies. There is no risk to the general public in the area where the bat was found among those who did not touch the animal.
To help prevent the spread of rabies, never touch a wild animal or any animal that you do not know.
For more information:
- Maine CDC's Rabies webpage www.maine.gov/dhhs/rabies
- Maine CDC's disease reporting and consultation line 1-800-821-5821