LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Tests confirm rabies in three bats found in Jefferson County. Now local health and wildlife officials are asking the public to take precautions.

In a release, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness said that the infected bats were found in the 40059 zip code, which includes much of Prospect.

The three bats were among 18 tested during routine surveillance by the Kentucky Department of Public Health. Two of the bats were found inside an individual residence while the third bat was found in the exterior of another home.

The public is being asked to take precautions around bats and to contact local health departments, if you have come in contact with a bat.

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease that can be transmitted from primarily wild animals to people through a bite or contact with the animal’s saliva, which can happen through the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Less than 1 percent of bats contract rabies. But health officials are warning people to never touch a bat or keep one as a pet.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologist Zack Couch said in the release that the big brown bat is one of the most common species in the state. It is more likely than any other species of bat in the state to take up residence in buildings.

July is maternity season for bats and newly born bats are beginning to take flight. Bats, which are normally nocturnal animals, may be seen roosting in the open during daylight hours at this time of year.

Jefferson County residents who observe a bat in their house or a dead or impaired bat on their property should not touch it but immediately contact the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6650. The department will arrange for the bat to be collected and submitted for rabies testing.

Connie Mendel, assistant director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, said in the release that pets should also be monitored.

“It’s also important to protect your pets from rabies,” she said. “Please make sure your pet is up to date on its rabies vaccination.”

Louisville Metro Animal Services will provide low-cost pet vaccinations, including one- or three-year rabies vaccines on Saturday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 201 Outer Loop. For more info and pricing of services, click here

Healthcare providers are required to report animal bites to the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and can get more information from its Rabies Prevention Program at 502-574-6640. Rabies reporting and treatment protocols for healthcare providers can be found online. Click here

People who live outside of Jefferson County who find a dead bat should contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife or their local health department for the possible collection of the animal. Residents may call Kentucky Fish and Wildlife from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on weekdays at 800-858-1549, or email the agency any time at [email protected].

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