As the climate changes, vampire bats are moving closer to the United States.

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Mainly found in Central and South America, the bats are moving north bringing the threat of rabies with them. While bat bites don't hurt, they do spread rabies, which can hurt livestock and other animals and people.

A migrant farm worker from Mexico died of rabies in Louisiana.

In 2010, the 19-year old arrived from Mexico to work at a sugarcane operation. The man was unaware of his condition, when he had shoulder pain, and numbness in his hand. As his symptoms worsened, the man was admitted to a hospital where he became unresponsive and died. Doctors ran a test which showed the rabies virus in his blood. If untreated, rabies is almost always fatal. Health officials later learned the man was bitten by a vampire bat before he left Mexico. This case was the first rabies death in the U.S. due to a vampire bat.

What is rabies?

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Rabies is a deadly virus spread to people and animals from the saliva of infected animals. Any bat seen during the day could be rabid. According to the CDC:

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Bats are one of the most commonly reported rabid animal in the United States.
Bats are the leading cause of rabies deaths in people in the United States.
If you find a bat in your home, try to capture it for testing. By testing the bat for rabies, you can find out if you need to be vaccinated.
Bat bites can be very small. If you’ve been in contact with a bat – even if you aren’t sure you’ve been bitten or scratched – talk to a healthcare or public health professional about your risk and whether or not you need to be vaccinated.

Bat-Proof your home to keep them out. Examine your home for any holes. Caulk any openings larger than a dime. Fill electrical and plumbing holes with steel wool.

Always be mindful of local rules or laws about removing bats . Some bats are endangered and may require special care if they are found in your home.

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