Rabid bat discovered in Mystic Aquarium bathroom

Mystic — A bat that staff members at the Mystic Aquarium found on the floor of an aquarium bathroom last week tested positive for rabies, according to officials from the Ledge Light Health District.

The bat did not come into contact with any aquarium animals, Ledge Light epidemiologist Russell Melmed said. He added that no human visitors reported seeing the bat before it was found, but that if anyone thinks they may have come into contact with the animal, they should contact the health district.

Aquarium staff found the bat motionless on the floor of the bathroom, which has an entrance that opens to the aquarium's outside cafe area, and isolated it for observation. When it died Friday, the aquarium's veterinarians sent its body to a state lab, where it tested positive for rabies.

"Any time you see a wild animal, you should not approach it," Melmed said. "Especially animals that are acting unusually."

Rabies, a deadly disease caused by a virus that is spread mostly by wild animals, is endemic to southeastern Connecticut, Melmed said. The virus lives in the saliva and brain tissue of infected animals, and can be spread when an infected animal scratches another animal or person, or when infected saliva comes into contact with open wounds, breaks in the skin or mucous membranes.

Ledge Light is usually notified about between four and six positive rabies tests each summer in animals like raccoons, bats, opossums and skunks.

Stray cats and dogs also can become infected and spread the disease, he said.

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