Bat found on Lake Harriet walking path tests positive for rabies

A bat found on the walking path at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis last Friday has tested positive for rabies, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

The bat was seen between the Lake Harriet Band Shell and the Lyndale Park Rose Garden between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Someone brought the bat to a local wildlife rehabilitation facility, where it died on Sunday. 

Heather Himli, a concerned lake goer, said she hadn't seen a bat all summer. Still, some experts are concerned. 

"Because we know that that's a very popular area, we wanted to make sure anybody else who might have had contact with the bat was aware of the rabies positive test and so we can talk to them and get them shots if they needed it," said Dr. Malia Ireland, of the Minnesota Department of Health Epidemologist.

"We don't like to talk about the symptoms of rabies once people start to have symptoms if it is too late, there's not longer anything we can do and it is fatal," Ireland added. 

Ireland added that bats have very tiny teeth and you may not notice if one bites you. 

Of bats tested in Minnesota from 2003 to 2017, only 3.4 percent tested positive for rabies and even though the state has only had two rabies deaths since the year 2000, there are rabies fatalities every year in the United States. 

"Not many, but it does happen and it usually is when people don't realize that they've had an exposure or recognize that that exposure could be dangerous," Ireland said. 

Anyone who may have had physical contact with the bat should contact MDH at 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414 to determine whether they need rabies shots. 

Dogs and cats are also at risk of contracting rabies. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health says pet owners who were in the Lake Harriet area when the bat was found should contact their veterinarian to ensure their pet is current on their rabies vaccinations. 

If you wake up with a bat in your bedroom, that bat should be captured safely and submitted for rabies testing.