The Richmond County Health Department is warning parents to tell their children to avoid contact with wild animals after two different groups of children found dead bats and played with them. Testing in both cases revealed the bats were not rabid.
About two weeks ago, a group of children in North Augusta found a dead bat and played with it, though testing later revealed it was not rabid, said Randy Wishard, environmental health county manager for the health department.
Then last week, a group of kids in Augusta found a dead bat and also started playing with it, he said. Animal Services was called and then the health department, which sent the bat for testing. It turned out to be negative on Friday.
The health department said people should avoid all contact with wild animals and should ensure that pets are vaccinated against rabies.
“You have a lot of children out with the summer recess,” Wishard said. “The first two weeks after school ended we will see an increase in bite cases.”
The best idea is for parents to tell children to avoid contact, live or dead, Wishard said.
“Good message: stay away from those,” said Adam Myrick, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Live bats are also a concern because “they can bite you and you may not know it,” he said. If you see a bat inside the house, seek medical attention to ensure you were not exposed, Myrick said.