JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
Rabies test results have come back negative for the bats captured from a dormitory building at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland recently.
Bats were sighted in one of the dormitory buildings which houses Air Force basic military trainees over a week-and-a-half period.
The bats were seen in the same building across four areas occupied by more than 200 basic military trainees from the 331st Training Squadron. Two bats were captured and released in a remote area and one was captured Friday night and was tested for rabies. They are believed to be Mexican Free Tailed bats, common to this region and known to be potential rabies carriers.
Although no trainees have reported being bitten by a bat, the Air Force is taking every precaution to ensure their health and welfare.
Lt. Col. Brad Winterton, 559th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight Commander, said the Air Force has implemented protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, immunizing those trainees who, after close consideration, were determined to be at risk.
"We work hand in glove with our civilian colleagues at both the local, state and national levels," Winterton said. "Contacts at the state health department and the CDC were engaged once we understood the breadth of the situation. Questionnaire templates from the CDC helped us focus quickly on making a good assessment of exactly which trainees were at risk."
The 205 trainees who have begun the vaccination process will be finished with the series by Feb 3.
Entomology and Civil Engineer personnel have inspected the interior of the building and no evidence of nesting has been discovered. They are also ensuring that any access from the building's exterior is being sealed to prevent further access.
Rabies is a potentially fatal disease with symptoms that generally don't manifest until the late stages of the disease. The incubation period prior to developing symptoms is weeks to months. Rabies is not contagious person-to-person, and the rabies vaccine is 100% effective when given prior to the onset of symptoms. Joint Base San Antonio officials do not consider this a public health emergency, but are exercising an abundance of caution.