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Austin health officials spending Batman Day looking for man who picked up bat

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bats, Mexican free-tail bats
Health officials are requesting information on a local man who may have picked up a bat near Austin's Bat Bridge. Photo by Ann Froschauer/USFWS/Flickr

In an odd coincidence, Austin health officials are spending the official Batman Day looking for a bat lovin' man who may have been exposed to rabies. 

Health officials with the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department are looking for a man who authorities say picked up a grounded bat on Congress Avenue and then took off running towards the Ann Richards Bridge. After receiving a call from Animal Services around 10:30 am on Saturday, July 19, members of the Austin Police Department arrived on the scene to find the animal had already been removed by the man.

Since it was not tested by health officials, it cannot be confirmed whether the bat is carrying rabies. It is not always possible to know if a bat has bitten you, so any and all exposure to the animal must be treated carefully.

Symptoms of the disease can take weeks to appear and, according to a press release, "Early signs of rabies can be fever or headache, but this changes quickly to nervous system signs such as confusion, sleepiness, or agitation." Untreated exposure can lead to death. Anyone with information should call the Disease Surveillance Program at 512-972-5555.

The announcement of the search also has interesting timing. Today is the official Batman Day, a day created by DC Comics to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the iconic Caped Crusader.

It’s probably not a surprise that someone would come across a bat near Austin’s iconic Bat Bridge, but let this be a friendly reminder to both locals and tourists: Look but never touch.

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