BATAVIA, Ohio — A bat infected with rabies bit a woman, the first time the Cincinnati suburb has had a case of rabies in three years.
The woman, whose name was not released, is being treated and expected to recover, according to the Clermont County Public Health department. The bat was found in the woman's home, but circumstances surrounding her bite were not immediately available.
While rabies is rare in the United States, the virus almost always results in death. Pet vaccinations and anti-rabies treatment have almost entirely eliminated the threat to humans in the U.S., according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the 1990s, rabies accounts for only one or two human deaths a year, but only one to three cases a year are reported on average, according to the most recent federal data. Only 34 cases of rabies in humans have been diagnosed in the U.S. from 2003 to 2015.
When humans do succumb to rabies, it's normally because they weren't aware they were exposed.
For this reason, health officials are urging people who find bats in their home to be extra cautious, partly because bat bites can be so small that they can go undetected. In Ohio, bats and raccoons make up the majority of wildlife rabies cases.
While pets are more likely to be bitten by a bat, human encounters do happen and anyone bitten should seek treatment as soon as possible. Any emergency room can administer treatment, often an immediate shot of immune globulin to prevent the virus from infecting and then a series of four injections in an arm over 14 days not the previous method of multiple injections into a victim's abdomen.
"Bats that are seen during the day or are unable to fly are more likely to be rabid,” Rob Perry, director of environmental health for Clermont County Public Health said in a news release. "If a bat does enter your home and must be caught, protect yourself by wearing thick leather gloves and try to trap the bat in a large jar or container to transport.”
Ohio saw two dozen cases of rabies in animals last year.