August 29, 2003
NO BATS POSITIVE FOR RABIES AT NORTHWEST
SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department has recommended that a total of eight students get post-exposure rabies vaccinations after coming into contact with bats at Northwest School of the Arts. In removing the bats, it was determined that some students, faculty or staff may have come in contact with them. Eight bats were sent to the state testing facility in Raleigh. None of the bats tested positive for rabies.
Dr. Stephen Keener, Mecklenburg County Medical Director cautioned that, "Even though these eight bats tested negative, we still must treat the eight students for exposure, since we are uncertain that the students were exposed to these particular bats."
The Health Department's Communicable Disease Control nurses have surveyed children, teachers and staff members at the school since August 25. As of today, there are approximately 11 students that need to be interviewed to determine if those students had contact with the bats and whether any follow up is necessary. No staff members at the school were recommended for the rabies vaccination.
A small percentage of bats carry the rabies virus. This virus can be transmitted to humans if they are bitten or scratched by the animal, or if the animal's saliva has direct contact with an open skin wound. Rabies is a deadly disease in humans, which is why treatment is important if exposure may have occurred.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) pest control and a local contractor are working to eliminate any remaining bats on the school property. CMS staff will conduct extensive searches in the evening and early morning to ensure that no bats are in the building.
Students, staff or parents who have questions are asked to call the Health Department's Communicable Disease Control Program at 704-336-5076 or 704-336-3477.