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Rabid bat found on Back Bay street

By Deborah Kotz
Globe Staff / August 25, 2011

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The Boston Public Health Commission announced yesterday that a bat found Tuesday on a sidewalk in front of 244 Clarendon St. in the Back Bay has tested positive for rabies and could pose a danger to anyone who had direct contact with it. The health officials advised anyone who touched, handled, or was bitten by the bat to contact their health care provider.

After receiving calls from area residents, Boston Animal Control officers picked up the bat and took it to the Massachusetts State Laboratory for testing. Initial lab reports suggested that someone had been bitten by the animal.

“If anyone was in direct contact with this bat . . . they need preventive treatment against rabies, and they should contact us and their health care provider as soon as possible,’’ said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the health commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau. “Persons who did not touch the bat are not at any risk.’’

Rabies - a virus spread through the saliva of a rabid animal - attacks the brain and nervous system and is often fatal. Prompt preventive care is the most effective treatment against rabies in those who have been exposed, said the commission.

Those bitten by a rabid animal should immediately cleanse the wound, which studies have shown dramatically reduces rates of infection. The Centers for Disease Control recommends a tetanus shot for those who have not been immunized within 10 years.

The CDC also recommends rabies postexposure vaccinations, which consist of four doses given the first day of the exposure and again on days 3, 7, and 14. “This set of vaccinations is highly effective at preventing rabies if given as soon as possible following an exposure,’’ said the CDC website.

Health officials posted fliers along Clarendon between Commonwealth Avenue and Newbury Street yesterday advising anyone who had contact with the bat to call the Boston Public Health Commission at 617-534-5611.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com.