Manassas police and health department officials are looking for anyone who has had contact with a sick bat found near a souvenir shop in Old Manassas on Saturday afternoon.
The Manassas Police Department and the Prince William Health District are spreading the news to try to locate the person (s) who found the bat near Calico Jack's at 9115 Center St. around 1:40 pm. Saturday, July 6th, and whoever could have managed it.
Unfortunately, the seller did not receive the names of the people who handled the bat. The shop said that only one of them was "a white woman in her twenties," said officer Sarah Maroney, spokeswoman for the Manassas City Police Department.
It was thought that the woman was shopping in the area when she and others discovered the bat.
An employee of Calico Jack called the police, who recovered the bat and subjected him to a rabies screening test. The tests were positive, said Maroney Thursday.
Anyone who manipulates the bat with his bare hands would be "very at risk" of contracting the disease, said Maroney.
Dr. Alison Ansher, Prince William Health District, said the initial information indicated that "several people" were touching the bat after its discovery on Saturday afternoon.
It is not known exactly when the bat was handled near the store. Police said the bat was reported at 13:40. The health district says 15 hours in its report.
The bat was found around Center Street between West Street and Battle Street, according to the Ministry of Health report.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Rabies can be prevented by a vaccine, but kills almost all mammals and all humans affected by it, said the health department.
The rabies virus is found mainly in the saliva and brain tissue of rabid animals. It can be transmitted by a bite or by the penetration of saliva or brain tissue into a wound, into the eyes or into the mouth.
Bat bites can be very small, and sometimes people do not notice if they have bitten.
"Anyone who has been exposed to a bat in this area should inform the health department," said Ansher.
Anyone who thinks they have been in contact with the bat is asked to contact Prince William Health District immediately at 703-792-7329 and to contact Chief Animal Control Officer Mark Daigle at 703-257- 8102.
The police also remind residents that they should never handle bats or other wild animals.
Residents of the city of Manassas are asked to call their police helpline at 703-257-8000.
In Prince William County, the number for animal control, which is also the non-emergency number for the police, is 703-792-6500.
Correction: This report has been updated to indicate that the bat was found outside of Calico Jack's, but it is not certain that the animal was brought inside the store, as this was originally reported. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.