NDA confirms cases of rabies in bats in Nevada

News & Media / June 16, 2021

The Animal Disease Lab reminds Nevadans to vaccinate pets against rabies

The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) Animal Disease Laboratory has confirmed three cases of rabies in bats—two in Clark County and one in Washoe County. Bats are common throughout Nevada, with their activity increasing between May and October. While other species of wildlife can carry rabies, bats are the most common source of human and domestic animal transmission, making it important to keep pets vaccinated and ensure no contact is made with wildlife.


“It’s important to ensure individuals and domestic animals do not come in contact with bats,” Laura Morrow, NDA Animal Disease Lab supervisor, said. “If you or your animals have had contact with any bats, contact your local healthcare professional or veterinary provider immediately.”


Any bats, dead or alive, that may have been in contact with people or domestic animals should be reported immediately. It is important that individuals contact the NDA Animal Disease Labor their local animal control agency before attempting to pick up a bat. If an individual is asked to collect the bat for testing, they should carefully follow all instructions provided by the NDA or animal control agency including using heavy gloves to avoid potential bites.


The Animal Disease Laboratory confirms between 10 and 20 cases of bat rabies each year. To date in 2021, the Animal Disease Lab has tested 25 bats, and three were positive for rabies.


“Rabies can only be confirmed through laboratory testing,” said NDA State Veterinarian Dr. Amy Mitchell. “It is important for all animal owners to work with their local veterinarians to keep animals up to date on vaccinations, to protect both the animals and their owners.”


In the state of Nevada, a rabies vaccination is required for dogs, cats and ferrets. Animal owners are urged to have pets vaccinated against rabies and maintain a regular vaccination schedule. Indoor animals should still be vaccinated, as bats can enter and exit residences unnoticed.


Individuals can learn more about rabies and the proper steps to take with a possible exposure on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/rabies, or through the Southern Nevada Health District or Washoe County Health Department.

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