MEDINA COUNTY, Texas – Texas health officials are investigating a rare case of rabies in a child bitten by a bat.
The child’s identity, age and details of exposure were not disclosed, according to a news release issued Friday by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Officials did confirm that the child is a resident of Medina County, about 37 miles west of central San Antonio, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
According to public health officials, contact tracing has been conducted to identify and alert anyone who came into contact with the child or the bat, and each of those individuals is being assessed to determine if post-exposure vaccinations to prevent rabies infections are warranted, the newspaper reported.
The last human case of rabies in a Texas resident was confirmed in 2009, KTRK reported.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rabies virus infects the central nervous system, and “if a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death.”
The rabies virus is typically spread through bites of infected animals, though it can also be transmitted when infected saliva enters through the eyes, nose, mouth or a cut in the skin, the agency stated, noting that only about one to three human rabies cases are recorded nationwide each year.
The CDC recommends preventing the risk of contracting rabies by vaccinating pets, steering clear of wildlife and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.
“Once someone becomes sick with rabies, it is almost always fatal,” the Texas public health news release stated. “However, the illness is preventable if rabies vaccine and immune globulin are administered before symptoms start.”
The department did not confirm if the infected child began treatment before symptoms appeared, the Star-Telegram reported.