As thousands of basketball fans in Milwaukee can attest to, bats can be a problem even in the middle of winter.

A bat flying around the Bradley Center during a game between Marquette and Providence on Jan. 26 showed that bats can be active during their normal hibernation period.

And that means danger.

A rabid bat was found in northwestern Wisconsin at the end of January, prompting the state Department of Health Services to issue a warning for residents to still be on the lookout for bats even if it's the dead of winter.

"It's uncommon to find a rabid bat so early in the year but bats have been diagnosed with rabies in January in the past," said state public health veterinarian Jim Kazmierczak in a news release from DHS.

The majority of bats winter in caves and mines and are inactive, but some bats find shelter indoors and can come in contact with people or pets.

You can't get rabies from a rabid bat by simply being in the same room, but if the bat flies by and you even just think you might have been nicked by a tooth or claw, get checked out by a physician.

"If there is physical contact with a bat there would be the potential for rabies transmission to occur, assuming the bat was rabid," Kazmierczak said in the release. "In such a case, the exposed person may need to receive the preventive series of shots to prevent rabies."

No players or coaches were in contact with the bat in Milwaukee on Jan. 26, but health officials said any spectator who might think the bat came in contact should call their public health department.

The bat was captured two days later in the atrium of the Bradley Center and was released safely outdoors.

 

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