A northern long-eared bat is seen in a cave near State College, Pa. Officials say the public should avoid contact with bats.
Brandon Keim | Creative Commons via Flickr

State health officials say a bat found in downtown Minneapolis this week has tested positive for rabies — and they'd like to talk with anyone who may have had contact with the animal.

The bat was found near the corner of Marquette Avenue and Sixth Street at about 1 p.m. Tuesday.

"A group of work colleagues ... captured it while it was still alive and brought it to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that afternoon," the Minnesota Department of Health reported in a news release.

The bat tested positive for rabies on Thursday.

Anyone who may have had physical contact with the bat is asked to call the state Health Department at (651) 201-5414 or (877) 676-5414.

Thirty-five to 75 animals test positive for rabies annually in Minnesota; they're usually bats or skunks that are tested after coming into contact with domestic animals or humans. 

Last summer, state health officials sought the public's help in locating a woman who may have touched a rabid bat near Como Lake in St. Paul.

According to the state Health Department, "rabies is a fatal illness that is transmitted through bites from infected animals. Bats are of particular concern because their teeth are so tiny that a bite may not be felt or even leave a noticeable mark."

"If someone has been bitten or exposed to a bat, it is very important to test the bat for rabies," Carrie Klumb, senior epidemiologist and MDH rabies surveillance coordinator, said in a news release. "If this is not possible, the person should get rabies prevention shots as soon as possible."

Find more information on the Minnesota Department of Health's rabies website.

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