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Concern raised after woman handles rabid bat at Como Lake in St. Paul

There were 34 rabies cases reported in Minnesota last year.

A woman is receiving medical attention after it was reported she handled a rabid bat at a park in St. Paul.

A concerned citizen raised the alarm with the Minnesota Department of Health, which managed to identify the woman who came into contact with the bat near the pavilion at Como Lake this week.

Bats are known carriers of rabies, the potentially fatal illness transmitted to humans from animals, and are particularly dangerous because their teeth are so small a bite may not be felt or even leave a mark.

"If someone has been bitten or exposed to a bat, it is very important to test the bat for rabies,” said Dr. Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian, in a Minnesota Department of Health press release.

"If this is not possible, rabies prevention shots should be given as soon as possible."

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MDH is warning Minnesotans that if they come into contact with a bat, or find one in the room of a sleeping person or unattended child, it should be captured safely and submitted for rabies testing.

There were 34 positive rabies cases reported in Minnesota last year, of which 19 were caused by bats, 10 by skunks, and a single case each caused by a cow, horse, cat, fox and a raccoon.

Seven of these cases happened in the Twin Cities metro, and all were from bats.

While the risk of rabies is there, it's also worth noting that bats are incredibly important to our ecosystem, keeping the populations of insects, including mosquitoes, down, and pollinating our flora.

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