As the temperatures continue to rise, bats are becoming a more common sight across the region, and there's already been one confirmed case of rabies in a bat in St Louis County.
But as one Central West End woman found out, if you find a bat on your property in the city, or have concerns about a rabid animal, you're on your own.
Bats are regular visitors to Chris Doer's property in the Central West End.
"We see them shooting around at night regularly, especially in the summer. I love bats. They're great for the environment," said Doer.
But Doer has seen what happens when they come too close. Last year, the gentle, shy feral cat Doer took care of left a dying bat on her back patio. A few days later, the usually gentle and shy cat developed aggressive behavior. Eventually, Doer was able to trap the cat, and St. Louis Animal Control took it away.
So, when she saw another bat in her backyard in broad daylight, she was concerned.
"Bats pose the highest risk for rabies transmission to humans. When the weather warms up, bats come out of hibernation. There's an Increased risk of humans being exposed, as well as domestic animals," said Dr. Fred Echols, Director of Communicable Disease Control Services with the St. Louis County Health Department.
But Doer said the St Louis City Animal Control Department told her they couldn't help her.
"[The employee] called me back and said 'I'm sorry, it's not a priority,'" Doer said. "It's serious. If it stays here, another animal is going to get it."
So what should you do if you suspect an animal on your property or in your neighborhood has rabies? If you live in St Louis County, you can call county animal control and they'll respond 24/7
But the St Louis City Animal Control Department tells us they only respond to these types of calls if a person or animal has been bitten.
And that poolside bat?
"It limped off," she said. "And I'm just concerned, like anybody, that that creates more of a possibility of rabies, and don't really know if the city is concerned about it, then what's somebody supposed to do?"
A spokesman for St Louis City Animal Control Department said they encourage residents to call a pest control company if they have concerns about bats or rabies.
You're also advised to make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their immunizations just in case they come across a rabid animal.
Your chances of getting rabies from a bat are pretty low. The CDC estimates there are only 1 or 2 cases a year on average.
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