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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Nebraska zoo urges nearly 200 guests to get rabies shot after wild bat exposure

A zoo in us-regions told 186 guests that they may have been exposed to rabies after a wild bat that tested positive for the virus snuck into the aquarium. 

“The bats we identified were Little brown bats, a common bat species in Nebraska that anyone could find in their backyard or attic,” Dr. Sarah Woodhouse, the Animal Health Director at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, said in a statement Friday. “It is not unusual for a wild bat to be infected with rabies, which is why you should never directly touch a wild bat.”

Woodhouse added that guests who were at the zoo during the day shouldn’t be concerned since bats are nocturnal, but the guests who stayed overnight recently should get rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), which will be paid for by the zoo. 


PEP is recommended by the CDC for both bite and non-bite exposures to rabies-infected bats. Individuals receive a dose of the rabies vaccine and human rabies immune globulin on the first day, then a dose of the rabies vaccine on days 3, 7, and 14. 

This common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) is a small brown bat. 

This common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) is a small brown bat. 

The rabies scare began when an overnight campout guest woke up to find a bat near her head on the evening of July 4. A team at the zoo investigated and found seven bats in total, one of which tested positive for rabies. 


While the woman did not have any bites or scratches on her, the zoo still recommended that she and other guests who were in the zoo at the time get treated for rabies. 

“People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal,” the CDC explains. “It is also possible, but rare, for people to get rabies from non-bite exposures, which can include scratches, abrasions, or open wounds that are exposed to saliva or other potentially infectious material from a rabid animal.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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