AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin Animal Services and Austin Public Health is asking the community to be alert and take precautionary measures with wildlife after a recent confirmed case of rabies, according to a city news release.

Shortly before 4 p.m., April 22, an Animal Protection Office (APO) responded to a call on the Great Lawn at Zilker Park near Lou Neff Point about a bat near the ground on a tree trunk, the release said.

The city said the bat was submitted for rabies testing with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is the standard protocol for any human interaction with bats that could result in exposure to rabies. Furthermore, bat bites can be “imperceptible” due to how tiny the size of their teeth are, according to the release.

The city said the bat tested positive for rabies.

“First and foremost, our concern is identifying any person or animal that may have had direct contact with the bat,” Jason Garza, deputy director of Austin Animal Services, said. “Anyone known to have contact with the bat is urged to seek medical care to begin preventative treatment.”

The city said if someone is bitten by a wild animal, they need to call Animal Protection immediately by calling 311 or (512) 974-2000. Additionally, the victim should contact a physician immediately, the release said.

If there is any contact with a bat or any sick or dead bat, someone should also report to 311 or (512) 974-2000, the city said.

Rabies can be found in Central Texas through bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks and coyotes, the release said. It can be spread through contact with an infected mammal’s saliva. If not treated before onset of symptoms, rabies can be fatal, the city said.

Symptoms of rabies include a change in personality, fever, loss of appetite, excessive salivation (foaming), weakness, paralysis and death, the city said.

In addition to vaccination, residents in the area are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:

  • Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
  • Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
  • Do not feed wildlife.
  • Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
  • Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.
  • Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.

More information about rabies prevention can be found on the city website.