200 people possibly exposed to rabid bat at Nebraska zoo
© iStock

A Nebraska zoo is recommending that nearly 200 campers and staff members get rabies shots after they were potentially exposed to a rabid bat earlier this month. 

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium said that one of the 186 people participating in an overnight campout event at the facility on July 4 woke up to a wild bat flying around her head, according to The Associated Press

While an emergency medical official at the zoo said there were no bites or scratches found on the camper, the zoo located seven wild bats in the aquarium, one of which tested positive for rabies. 


The AP reported that all of the seven bats found were euthanized. 

The zoo is now paying for campers to get rabies shots, and is also offering refunds for their participation in the camping events. 

According to local ABC affiliate KETV, the zoo recommended that the guests get rabies shots based on guidance from both the Nebraska State Veterinarian and the Nebraska Department of Health. 

The zoo’s director of animal health, Sarah Woodhouse, told the AP, “It is not unusual for a wild bat to be infected with rabies, which is why you should never directly touch a wild bat.”

“The bats we identified were Little brown bats, a common bat species in Nebraska that anyone could find in their backyard or attic,” she added. 

The zoo said that while it had found no signs of any additional bats at the aquarium, it has decided to move all overnight camping events to a different portion of the zoo as workers investigate how the creatures were able to get into the area, according to the AP. 

The Hill has reached out to the Omaha zoo for additional information. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most bats do not have rabies, but “any bat that is active by day or is found in a place where bats are not usually seen like in your home or on your lawn just might be rabid.” 

“There are usually only one or two human rabies cases each year in the United States, and the most common way for people to get rabies in the United States is through contact with a bat,” the CDC says, adding that people should avoid coming into contact with bats and other “unfamiliar animals,” and prevent them from entering homes or other places where they could easily come into contact with people and pets.