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Baltimore Ravens fans who attended Aug. 17 game warned about possible rabies exposure

White-winged vampire bat pup
A white-winged vampire bat pup AP Graphics Bank

(CBS News) The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygene is putting some Ravens fans on high alert after a bat flew into the stadium and landed on a person.

A bat landed on a fan sitting in the 500 section of the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. on Aug. 17 during the 8:00pm game between the Ravens and the Detroit Lions. While the bat flew off before it could be tested for rabies, officials believe it is possible that other people may have touched the bat and could possibly be infected with the disease.

"Anyone who has had contact with a pet or a wild animal that they suspect might have rabies should consult with their health care provider as soon as possible," Kim Mitchell, Chief of Rabies and Vector-borne Diseases at the health department, said in a  press release. "Rabies is a very serious disease that can be prevented with prompt medical assessment and timely vaccination following exposure."

Those who have had contact with the bat or any other bat at the game are urged to go to the local health department for testing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is a virus transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. It attacks the central nervous system, causing disease in the brain and death. Early symptoms include fever, headache and general weakness or discomfort. Later, the infected may experience insomnia, anxiety, confusion slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water).

In Maryland, more than 200 animals have tested positive for rabies this year, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygene reported. Forty bats have been diagnosed with the disease. Each year, about 900 state residents receive a vaccination for rabies after exposure to a rabid or potentially rabid animal.

Rabies vaccinations for those who have been possibly infected start with a dose the day of the incident, and then following doses on day 3, 7 and 14 after the bite.

A preexposure vaccine is also available for those who are will be in contact with wild or domestic animals, visiting remote areas where medical care is hard to come by or you are staying in an area longer than one month where rabies in dogs is common. Preexposure vaccines consist of a shot on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28. If exposed to rabies, a person who had the preexposure vaccine only needs a shot on the day of infection and the third day following the incident.

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