- Kraft Heinz Expands Kraft Singles Recall
- A Bold Move To Save A Man's Hand: Tucking It Into His Tummy
- Paramedics Talk Mental Effects Of Responding To Numerous Crashes
- Texas Teen Dies After Amoeba Enters Brain
- Texas AG To Shut Down Unlicensed North Austin Assisted Living Facility
- Student Contracts First Case Of Rubella In Texas Since 2004
- Mom Starts Movement To Save Lives Using Kindness
- Need For Blood Donations Increased Due To Rise In Traumatic Car Crashes
- Texas Records 4th Death This Year Linked To West Nile Virus
- Man Blames Austin Clinic For Loss Of Testicle
- Dr. James 'Red' Duke, Once-Familiar TV Doctor, Dead At 86
- Officials Confirm Dallas Resident Died Of West Nile Virus
- Students Miss Part Of First Day Of Class To Get Vaccines
- State Program Fails To Reduce Obesity At Texas Schools
- Austin Mom says Glass in Baby Wipes Injured Her Son
- Fluoridation Fight Heats Up In Austin And San Marcos
- El Paso Abortion Clinic Set To Become Texas' First To Reopen
- FDA Approves Female Sex Pill, But With Safety Restrictions
- Leander Boy Acts FAST To Save Grandma From Stroke
- FDA approves OxyContin for children 11 and older
- Austin Breast Milk Bank Recruiting Donors
- Solutions For Health Inequality In Austin
- West Nile Season Expected to Hit in Coming Weeks
- Local emergency room sees rise in heat related illness
- Alabama Health Officials OK Blue Bell Sales
- San Marcos Water Customers North Of Blanco River Under Boil Water Notice
- Guidelines Help Keep Student Athletes And Musicians From Getting Sick As Temps Soar
- FDA bans some Mexican cilantro after feces found in fields
- Flea Population Exploding Due To Recent Rains
- Snake Bite Deaths Rare
- New FDA Approved Injectable Dissolves Chin Fat
- Abbott: Texas Won't Legalize Medicinal Or Recreational Pot
- Rep. Spitzer Responds To Criticism Over Abstinence Education
- Texas Army Veteran Supports Medical Marijuana Legislation
- Justices Sharply Divided Over Health Care Law Subsidies
- Listeria Found In Blue Bell Plant In 2013
- Vaccinations Don't Stop After High School
- Kyle's Youth Ban On E-Cigs Proposed As State Law
- Miller Defends Deep Fryers In Agriculture Address
- Future Of ACA Subsidies In Texas Unclear After Rulings
- Women's Groups Blast Supreme Court Ruling On Contraception
- Austin Regional Clinic Strengthens Vaccination Policy
- Travis Co. Hit Hardest in Texas Cyclospora Outbreak
- 2 Cases of Chikungunya Reported In Central Texas
- Food For Families Food Drive kicks off June 15!
- PTSD treatment Bravemind set to deploy in Texas
- Austin Man Receives World's First Ever Skull, Scalp Transplant
- Woman Loses Eyesight From Cat Lick
- Man Who Caught Listeria-Related Meningitis Sues Blue Bell
- Blue Bell Closing All 3 Creameries For Training, Cleaning
Rabies Threat Two Days Before Bat Fest
Saturday night, between one and two million bats will fly out from under the The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge in Downtown Austin during Bat Fest. Tonight, there's concern over rabid bats in Travis County. So far this year, Animal Services reports 33 bats have tested positive for rabies. 21 of those were reported in the past week. The number is on track to surpass last year's total number of rabid bats which was 89.
Watching the bats from this bridge is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Austin, but animal control officers remind spectators to never touch a downed bat. They say as long as you keep your hands to yourself, you should be fine.
Every night at dusk, the Frost Tower lights the way for thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. "We saw them the other night and watched them fly out, all of them at one time," said Mike Johnson who is visiting from Jackson, TN.
People come from all over the world to see the bats take off from under the bridge in search of food. "They were amazing," said Sue Jones who is visiting from London, England. "Absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I think we all agreed." "We're actually talking about doing it tonight," said Caitlyn Hawn who is visiting from Corpus Christi, TX.
Every year, though, there's concern about rabies. "Austin-Travis County is generally 2nd or 3rd in the state of Texas as either positive or non-testible," said Mark Sloat, Austin Animal Control Supervisor.
Sloat says so far this year, 33 bats have tested positive for rabies. Several people, including a six-year-old boy, have come in contact with them. "Quite often by the time they realize a person has rabies, there's nothing they can do for them."
With a festival dedicated to watching the bats coming up in two days, Bat Fest organizers want to remind the public of a good rule of thumb. "A bat in the air is a healthy bat, and a bat on the ground might be a sick bat and a bat you don't want to touch," said Angela Hamann, a spokesperson for Roadway Productions.
"The problem with a bat is it can literally bite or scratch you with its teeth and you're not necessarily going to even feel it," said Sloat.
However, the rabies risk isn't enough to keep bat-gazers away. "I wouldn't be worried about it," said Johnson. "I'm around animals a lot and that's just a risk that you have to take," said Hawn.
Bat Fest is this Saturday, August 23rd on the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue bridge. It runs from 4-11 p.m while the bridge is shutdown to traffic. The bats are expected to make their appearance around 8:30 p.m.
Reminder, if you do see a downed bat, call 311 and report it to animal control.
(Photo from Bat Fest.)
By Deeda Payton