WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A rabid bat was recently found in the City of Watertown.

A bat found inside a home in the City of Watertown tested positive for rabies, according to a press release from Jefferson County Public Health.

This bat was tested by the New York State Department of Health in early June and presented positive test results.

Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord, Public Health said. After exposure, it can take several weeks to months for rabies symptoms to appear.

There were no known human exposures in the recent rabies detection, however, a pet cat was exposed to the rabies virus, Public Health confirmed the press release. The cat was not vaccinated against rabies and had to be subsequently euthanized.

Health officials warned that any mammal can get rabies, but it is most often seen in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Animals do not have to be aggressive or behave erratically to have rabies. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior can be early signs of the virus.

Bats that are on the ground, unable to fly or active during the day are more likely than others to be rabid, according to Public Health. When a bat is found in a room with a child unattended or with any sleeping or incapacitated person, the bat needs to be tested for rabies.

But, early treatment after exposure can prevent rabies in humans and in pets who are vaccinated. Public Health encouraged people to take the following steps to prevent the spread of rabies:

  • Teach children to stay away from unfamiliar animals
  • Do not leave pet food outside
  • Wash any wound from an animal encounter thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately
  • Keep pet’s vaccinations current
  • Monitor pets when outdoors