A bat found dead at a Wildwood home on Wednesday is undergoing analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for rabies.
Most bats don't carry rabies, and in fact perform a beneficial service by eating large quantities of insects. But if one bat in a colony contracts rabies, chances are it will spread to other members of the colony, said John Shelton, spokesperson for St. Louis County Health Department.
Shelton said of the 112 bats from St. Louis County tested for rabies so far during 2012, three were positive for rabies.
He told Eureka-Wildwood Patch that of the six bats that had been picked up this year from Wildwood by St. Louis County Health Department, only one tested positive for rabies. But he also said four of those six bats were not tested, due to no circumstantial elements, and that the other bat tested negative.
Shelton said last year three bats in Wildwood tested positive.
He also said of the 196 bats tested last year for St. Louis County, four tested positive.
Any St. Louis County resident who encounters a live or dead bat in their home is urged to call the health department. Residents should not attempt to capture a live bat, but should confine it to the room where it is discovered so animal control officers can collect it for possible rabies testing, urge county health officials.
Shelton said to never release a bat found in a home if it was present while people were sleeping or in the same room with children or adults who, due to health or age, may not be able to describe the extent of their exposure.
During business hours, residents should call (314) 615-0650. After business hours, and on weekends and holidays, county residents should call St. Louis County Police at (314) 889-2341.