Cape Cod Rabies Death Heightens Awareness Of Virus In Bats

January 31, 2012 by staff 

Cape Cod Rabies Death Heightens Awareness Of Virus In Bats, U.S. Fish and WildlifeA little brown bat similar to this one is believed to have bitten Kevin Galvin of Marstons Mills, transmitting the rabies that claimed his life.
How to prevent rabies
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health continues to monitor rabies in bats and land mammals through testing at the Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Jamaica Plain. Here are some things you can do to help prevent rabies:

• Keep your chimney capped and repair holes in attics, cellars and porches to help keep wild animals like bats and raccoons out of your home.
• Teach children never to approach animals they don’t know – even if they appear friendly.
• Report any animal that behaves oddly to your local animal control official.
• Enjoy wild animals from a distance. Do not keep wild animals as pets. This is against the law in Massachusetts.
• Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies. By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be regularly vaccinated against rabies.
• Don’t feed food or water to your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.
• Keep your pets in a fenced yard or on a leash and do not let them roam freely.
• Keep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will attract wild or stray animals.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Historically, rabies came with a warning.

A dog or other infected animal, staggering, perhaps foaming at the mouth, would launch an attack for no apparent reason.

Seeing this, people knew to back away.

Pet vaccinations and prompt medical treatment have all but eliminated human loss of life due to rabies. Until last week, the last death due to rabies in Massachusetts was recorded in 1935.

But a Barnstable man died Monday in a Boston hospital, the victim of an attack which came in a way for which little or no warning or protection exists.

A rabid bat likely got into his house and bit him, perhaps without his even being aware of it because such bites can have the size and appearance of a pin prick.

Kevin Galvin, 63, of the Barnstable village of Marstons Mills died Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to the Cape Cod Times. State and local public health officials would not confirm the cause of death, The Times reported.

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