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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

August 25, 2003


Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department has recommended that two students get post-exposure rabies vaccinations after coming into contact with bats at Northwest School of the Arts.  Bats were found last week in the ceiling of the school.  In removing the bats, it was determined that some students, faculty or staff may have come in contact with them.

The Health Department's Communicable Disease Control nurses have surveyed every child, teacher and staff member present today in order to determine who may have had contact with bats.  Follow up interviews are being conducted with anyone who may have handled or come into direct contact with a bat.  Persons with direct exposure to a bat may need post-exposure rabies vaccinations.  Letters have been sent home with every Northwest student informing them of this process.

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 it is important to determine whether an exposure occurred. 

Northwest School of the Arts Administration and the school district are working with the Health Department in this situation, and are taking direction from the Health Department regarding necessary follow-up.

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.

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