Health officials searching for man possibly exposed to rabies


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist DOUG NAUGLE

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 20 at 5:33 PM

AUSTIN -- People in Austin love the bats and for good reason. Bats eat insects and pollinate. However, health officials warn to not touch a sick bat.

Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services is looking for a man who may have been exposed to rabies. They say he brought a live bat in a cardboard box to Austin Vet Care on North Lamar Sunday between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

That bat tested positive for rabies. They now say it's critical to find out if the man was exposed. If so, it's urgent he get treatment.

The man is described as white, about six feet tall, bald with a stocky build. He was wearing a short-sleeved green shirt and black shorts.

Carole Barasch with Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services says symptoms initially can start several weeks after exposure.

"It might start off with a fever and a headache, but then it can quickly progress to confusion, agitation and sleepiness. Once you've crossed that threshold it's usually fatal," Barasch said.

If the man was exposed, he needs treatment right away, however, officials don't believe he is a threat to others.

If you have any information you are asked to call the Disease Surveillance Program at (512) 972-5555.

If you ever come across a sick bat, you are urged not to touch it. Instead, dial 311.