Rabid bat at TISD prompts caution, alert by officials

‘No contact with students’; staff inspects facilities

A rabid bat was discovered on a Thorndale ISD playground last week by a school maintenance worker.

No students came into contact with the diseased bat, which was then collected by police, but the community is asked to be on the alert.

Dr. Craig Spinn, Thorndale ISD superintendent, said the bat was discovered last Wednesday near the old (Quonset Hut) gym.

“The bat was found alive, but was unable to fly,” Dr. Spinn told The Reporter. He said the location was outside the gym in the area where parents pick up their children after school.

“My understanding is that a student saw the bat and told a parent. The parent then notified a teacher,” he said.

“ When the school staff got word, they called law enforcement and they came and removed the bat from the premises,” he said.

SEARCH—After tests came back positive for rabies, Dr. Spinn and Police Chief Martin Jackson alerted the TISD community to the situation on Friday.

“ The bat discovered on the playground is the first we have seen at the school this year,” he said.

Dr. Spinn said he asked the district’s maintenance department to complete an inspection of all TISD facilities to ensure there are no active colonies.

“We have not found any evidence of a colony in the Thorndale ISD facilities,” he said.

INFO—Dr. Spinn said teachers are talking to students about the dangers of handling animals they do not know.

But he emphasized no children handled the bat before it was collected by the police.

Jackson noted that while police don’t provide a bat removal service for buildings in which bat colonies are roosting, animal control agencies would respond in cases of possible rabies exposure as a result of human-bat contact.

“In those cases, animal control will respond to the scene and impound the individual bat involved for testing purposes,” he said.

The cities of Rockdale and Cameron have their own animal control personnel on staff.

PREVENTION—The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has issued a “what to do about bats” handout.

Above all, the DSHS notes rabies exposure occurs only when a person is bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal or when abrasions, open wounds or mucous membranes are contaminated with the saliva, brain or nervous system of the bat.

Simply touching such an animal, or coming in contact with its urine or feces, does not constitute an exposure, the DSHS notes.

The agency listed suggestions:

• Never handle a bat, alive or dead, with your bare hands.

• Bats will generally leave a building on their own, given the chance.

• To encourage a bat to leave a room on its own, open windows turn the lights on and leave the room, closing the door and taking children and pets with you.

• If you find a bat in a room, don’t try to catch it unless testing for rabies is necessary because a child or pet has been sleeping in the room.

• If you must remove a bat from a room (because there’s no way to avoid contact with people or pets), wear thick leather gloves, carefully place a wide-mouthed cup, jar or coffee can over the resting bat, slip a piece of cardboard between the opening and resting surface, take the container outside and release the bat.

If someone is bitten by a bat:

• Get help immediately. Call 911 and administer first aid to the victim.

• Call animal control through your local police department.

• If possible, confine or try to keep track of the bat until animal control arrives to capture it for testing.

• Authorities will need the name address and phone number of the victim, the victim’s personal physician, address where the incident occurred and information on how and where the person was bitten.

• Contact personal physician as soon as possible.

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