Published: Aug. 29, 2018

Update: As of 4:37 p.m. today, Aug. 29, the woman public health officials were looking for has contacted them and is getting advice on next steps.

At approximately noon on Monday, Aug. 27, outside of the McKenna Languages building on campus, a young woman had an encounter with a bat that subsequently tested positive for rabies, lab results showed today.

The bat landed on her back while she was walking from Varsity Lake. A nearby student said she tried to swat it off her. The impacted woman then grabbed the bat and removed it herself. It’s unclear if the woman was bitten or scratched before she walked away, according to witness reports. Officials euthanized the bat to submit it for testing.

The young woman who removed the bat from her back has been described as a white female with dark hair who was wearing a white shirt and was looking for the Boulder Fringe Festival office in the city. Boulder County and CU public health officials want to locate the young woman to learn more information and possibly offer medical treatment.

Anyone who has information about the person or persons impacted by this situation should call Medical Services at Wardenburg Health Clinic at 303-492-5432. Outside of normal business hours, please report any information to the Facilities Management Operations Control Center at 303-492-5522.

About rabies

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is spread through the bite of an infected animal or by getting saliva from an infected animal into your eyes, mouth, or an open wound.

When to seek treatment

Untreated rabies is fatal, so the timing of treatment is extremely critical. Since bats have small teeth, bites may be very difficult to see. Therefore, it’s always recommended that anyone who may have had contact with a bat (even if there’s no obvious bite or wound) get a series of vaccines as soon as possible to prevent rabies. It is especially important if you:

  • Find a bat in your room upon waking.
  • See a bat in the room with an unattended child or pet.
  • See a bat in the room of a mentally impaired or intoxicated person.

If bitten by a bat, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, and see your doctor. If you see a bat that is acting aggressively or appears to be ill, cover it with a box, and notify animal control. Do not open a window and let it go; the bat can be tested for rabies.

Prevent future exposure

Bats play an important role in our environment so efforts should be made to prevent killing them unnecessarily or destroying their habitat. To prevent risk of rabies exposure:

  • Use window and door screens. If you don’t have screens, avoid leaving doors and windows open to bats and other wildlife.
  • Make sure there are no holes to allow bats into living quarters. Ideally, contact a private pest control company to bat-proof your home.
  • Keep vaccinations current for all dogs, cats and other pets.
  • Keep cats and other pets inside, and keep dogs under direct supervision.

For more information about rabies, please visit the Boulder County Vector Control rabies website or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website on rabies.