The Delaware General Health District is asking residents to be alert for dead bats and wild animals displaying unusual behavior following the discovery of two rabid bats.

The Delaware General Health District is asking residents to be alert for dead bats and wild animals displaying unusual behavior following the discovery of two rabid bats.

The bats were found in the village of Galena and northern Radnor Township in Delaware County, said Jesse Carter, health district spokesman.

"In both instances, there is the potential where the bats may have tangled with pets," he said, which triggered the testing.

"We rely on residents to report wildlife that is acting strangely or dead bats they find," Carter said.

Anyone who finds a newly deceased bat that should be tested is asked to collect it, wearing thick leather gloves, double-bagging the carcass and placing it in a refrigerator, not the freezer, he said, and call the health district at (740) 368-1700 during weekday business hours. The health district will collect the carcass for testing. After hours, residents can call the health district information line at (740) 203-2015.

Bats are tested for rabies if they are suspected of exposing persons or pets to the disease, he said. Any bat found in an occupied home should be tested, as well as any bat that bites or scratches a person or a pet.

Residents are urged to make sure that their pets are vaccinated against rabies, Carter said. Parents should also teach their children never to touch or play with any unfamiliar, wild, or sick animal.

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks mammals' nervous systems. It is fatal unless treated. The rabid bats found along state Route 203 north of Radnor and Columbus Street in Galena were the first confirmed in Delaware County this year. Five were found in the county in each of the last two years, Carter said.

People need to be very careful when they handle bats, particularly when they are alive, he said. Anyone bitten should use soap and water to clean any wounds caused by a bat, and seek medical attention immediately.

The Ohio Department of Health reported a total of 43 rabid bats found in Ohio last year, Carter said. No human rabies infections have been confirmed in the county for many years but some local residents have received precautionary rabies vaccine treatments because of possible exposure.

To safely capture a live bat indoors people should take the following steps:

Get children and pets out of the room where the bat is, and shut it inside.

Put on thick leather gloves, whether the bat is dead or alive.

Wait for the bat to land, never taking your eyes off the bat.

Use a plastic bowl or other solid container with an open top to trap the bat. Slide a piece of cardboard or other hard flat material between the container and the surface where the bat is resting, taking care to not let it escape. Once the cardboard covers the opening, tape it securely to the container.