Dead Bats Tested for Rabies as Cases Continue to Rise

- NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Last year the state of Arkansas had 152 cases of rabies reported. That's three times the average of about 50.

There have already been two cases this year of domestic-type animals testing positive for rabies, and cases in the Natural State could be on par with the numbers of last year when we tripled the average.

There were only two rabid bat cases in all of Pulaski County in 2013. This year, however, there's already been two confirmed rabid bat cases.

In some places, even shopping centers where bats are a common sight at night, those used to the creatures are starting to give second looks.

Bats circling around the 2700 block of Lakewood Village in a North Little Rock parking lot is nothing out of the ordinary. You won't see them during the day but after hours they'll be there.

"They're all over the place," Will Heral said. "At night they're like chasing the insects. You see them when you come out of work."

As manager of Books-A-Million, Heral sees the winged creatures outside his store, and they don't bother him, because on average experts say bats could eat 600 insects every night.

However, when a customer found dead bats on the sidewalk this week, it became a problem.

"Because I had heard the news story about the bat with rabies across town," Heral said.

"There were three that we did find deceased," Officer David Miles said. "They're being sent to the health department for testing today (Friday)."

Miles, a North Little Rock Animal Control officer, spends most of his day on patrol. Lately though, they've been on the lookout for bats.

One tested positive for rabies in North Little Rock this week.

"Rabies is a very deadly virus," Miles said.

With an uptick in the numbers last year they don't want to miss a single case. Because stray and our own pets could fall victim.

"It's just very imperative that [pets are] vaccinated against rabies," Miles added.

Until one comes back testing positive for rabies, however, Heral doesn't mind having them around. Just as long as customers don't find any more during the day.

"Can't leave dead bats on the sidewalk," Miles said.

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