Bats in the Belvedere in Salt Lake City test positive for rabies

Sep 24, 2022, 1:14 PM | Updated: 1:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY—Health officials confirmed Friday one bat tested positive for rabies and at least 9 people were receiving rabies shots following exposures and potential exposures at a historic downtown condominium complex.

Earlier in the month, Resident Kim Cawdery reported several bats entering the The Belvedere building, 29 S. State St., and her condo from she described as a hole in the façade of the building.

She said the latest bat, which she named, “Matt the Bat,” was collected by animal services last week around Sept. 15.

Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp said Friday afternoon that a bat found on Sept. 15 was the bat that tested positive.

Salt Lake County Health Department warning about rabid bats in the city. (Andrew Adams)

Cawdery said she received a call confirming as much.

“I was working on Tuesday and they said, ‘we’re really sorry but, ‘Matt the Bat’ is rabid,” Cawdery told KSL 5 in an interview Friday evening.

Cawdery said she had already begun rabies prophylaxis.

Health officials were encouraging anyone who had potential contact with the bats in the building to receive the prophylaxis.

They were also disseminating warning posters around the building to alert residents to the possible risk.

“Residents have reported bats in your building,” one of the posters read. “If you have recently found a bat in your apartment, or if you encountered a bat on the grounds, please call Salt Lake County Health Department at 385-468-4222.”

The poster also urged residents if they encounter a bat to not touch it or attempt to harm it and instead try to contain the bat, perhaps by placing a container over it, and contacting Salt Lake County Animal Services at 801-743-7000.

“Even the smallest contact with a bat is a concern because their claws are so tiny, they can leave scratches that you can’t see,” Rupp said. “Prophylaxis is timely, it’s important to get that done in time, because as soon as you have symptoms of rabies, it is considered 100 percent fatal.”

He also cautioned that bats anywhere in Salt Lake County could potentially carry rabies.

Cawdery said she wished the building management and HOA would have done more to address the issue when she first alerted them to the problem roughly 3 weeks ago.

“They should have put up those bat signs when they knew they had them!” Cawdery said, noting the signs had only gone up over the previous day or two.

Attempts to reach officials with The Belvedere’s management after posted Friday hours did not immediately result in a response by late Friday evening.

With 2 shots left to go in her prophylaxis treatment, Cawdery said she just hoped to put the ordeal behind her.

“You know what, I’ll get through the next 2 rabies shots,” Cawdery said. “Then I won’t think about it anymore.”

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Bats in the Belvedere in Salt Lake City test positive for rabies