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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It sounds like something out of a horror movie -- bats biting people while they sleep. But that is exactly what happened to some people in Kentucky.
Most cases of human rabies in the United States are transmitted by bats. That is the concern after many people in Louisville were exposed to bats during service projects.
It may make your skin crawl thinking of a bat biting, or even touching you.
State health officials will not identify the non-profit organization involved, but say around 260 volunteers with the group -- mostly from Louisville -- went to Floyd County, Kentucky this year for service projects, and slept in a building where bats lived.
Almost all volunteers have been called by the state over the weekend.
"We were actually questioning folks to see did you see them or were they awakened by them. Our concern was did they have direct contact with them," State Epidemiologist Dr. Kraig Humbaugh says. He says only a few people are at high risk for possible rabies exposure.
"Somebody at high risk would be somebody who got bitten by a bat, or was scratched by a bat or had physical contact with a bat without some type of barrier protection like gloves," Humbaugh explained.
But if a volunteer was bitten months ago without signs of the disease -- they still may not be in the clear. "Rabies has a very long incubation period so it can be a matter of weeks to months before somebody shows signs and symptoms of rabies," Humbaugh says.
According to the CDC, rabies can be fatal, causing strange behavior such as hallucinations and cerebral dysfunction. Officials won't say where exactly the site is in Floyd County. Those at risk are advised to talk to their doctor about getting a series of vaccines.
The building has been eradicated of bats, none were tested for rabies. That is why officials are warning those volunteers as a precaution.
Humbaugh says we have not seen cases of human rabies in Kentucky in years, mainly because of vaccinations to domestic animals.
Wild animals like bats are where most cases are transmitted.