On Wednesday, July 16 sometime between 2:30-3 p.m., MST, a bat landed on a visitor while she was standing in front of the Tusayan Museum, just west of the Desert View Visitors’ Center within Grand Canyon National Park. The bat crawled on the visitor’s shorts, shirt, and leg for at least 10 minutes. A crowd gathered around the bat to take pictures. This bat was later captured and euthanized and tested positive for rabies on July 19. The identity of the individual is unknown at this time.
A second bat that was found dead on the North Kaibab Trail on Saturday, July 12 also tested positive for rabies. There are no known human exposures to this bat. These 2 bats are the first rabies-positive animals identified by Grand Canyon National Park in 2014. It is unknown if other animals in the park are infected.
As a precautionary measure, any individual who may have had physical contact with either of these bats is encouraged to contact the park as soon as possible at 928-638-7779 and to see a healthcare provider.
- If you see sick or erratic behaving wildlife, do not approach or touch them. Notify a park employee or call the park’s 24-hour emergency communications center at 928-638-7805.
- In areas where pets are allowed, make sure that pets are vaccinated and kept on a leash at all times.
- Teach your children to tell you if they were bitten or scratched by an animal.
- Anyone who has had contact with a bat or other wild animal in the park should notify a park employee as soon as possible.
- Visitors are reminded to observe and appreciate wildlife from a distance.
Rabid bats have been documented in all 48 continental states. Cases of rabies in animals are reported in Coconino County, Arizona each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Recent data suggest that transmission of rabies virus can occur from minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats. Human and domestic animal contact with bats should be minimized, and bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons or be kept as pets.” Additional information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/bats.html.
Grand Canyon National Park is working with the National Park Service Office of Public Health and Wildlife Health Branch to protect the health and safety of visitors and wildlife in the park by testing any sick or dead wildlife.