There’s a national shortage of the rabies vaccine, but state health officials say there’s no reason for alarm. State health department veterinarian, Ann Garvey, says they just want to be sure the vaccine is used wisely.
She says there are two production facilities that make the vaccine in the U.S. and one is in the process of renovating, which has caused the supply to drop. Garvey says the recommendations for treatment haven’t changed, but they do recommend consultation with the health department before using the vaccine to be sure it’s being used properly.
Bats are one of the animals that carry the disease and the fall is the time when bats seek to get into homes to hibernate.Garvey says they do tend to see more calls this time of year and they recommend that people try to bat proof their homes. She says if you wake up and find a bat in your room or find one in a room with a small child, they would like to catch the bat and test it.
Garvey says it’s important to be able to test the bat to avoid treatment. Garvey says the national recommendations call for you to seek treatment in any case where you wake up with a bat in the room and can’t say if you’ve been bitten. Or if a bat is found in the room where you’ve been sleeping or found with an unsupervised small child or incapacitated person.
Garvey says the health department doesn’t routinely track the number of people who have been possibly exposed to rabies. She says they may have a better idea this year though, through the guidelines that ask for a consultation before treatment with the vaccine.