DHEC: 2nd bat found at Fountain Inn school is not rabid - FOX Carolina 21

DHEC: 2nd bat found at school is not rabid

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Fountain Inn Elementary School is located on Fairview St. (Feb. 15, 2012/FOX Carolina) Fountain Inn Elementary School is located on Fairview St. (Feb. 15, 2012/FOX Carolina)
FOUNTAIN INN, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday that a second bat that was found at Fountain Inn Elementary School on Thursday was not rabid.

Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesman Adam Myrick said the school has had a problem with bats for about three weeks and they have been working with a bat-removal company.

On Wednesday, a bat got into the classroom area where students and a teacher were present and was captured by school staff, according to Myrick. He said the bat tested negative for rabies.

SLIDESHOW: Bat discovery sends kids home early

On Thursday, Greenville County Schools spokesman Oby Lyles said school was dismissing early when another bat was found in the music room. He said the animal was turned over to DHEC for testing.

Lyles said as a precautionary measure, school was dismissed early. He said any students at the school after 1 p.m. would be transported to Hillcrest High School, where they would be supervised by staff until they were picked up.

Lyles said that the school would be closed on Friday, while school leaders meet with DHEC officials, the animal removal company and a bat expert from Clemson University.

Lyles said school officials will decide Sunday if classes will resume on Tuesday. Greenville County students have Monday off for Presidents' Day.

Bats found in gymnasium, exterminator called

Greenville County Schools Communications Coordinator Susan Clarke said five to six bats had been seen in the past three weeks inside the gym and school officials closed the gym while maintenance crews were working to seal off the areas where bats could have entered.

Last week, the district brought in a professional animal removal service to remove the bats from the gym and, while working, they saw more than 300 bats evacuate the gym.

Clarke said the bat found in the fourth-grade classroom Wednesday was in the wing closest to the gym, and they did not believe it had been in the room overnight.

Myrick said there was no reason to suspect a bite or any other exposure, but DHEC was at the school to prevent any exposure of humans to rabies. He said they were monitoring the situation and were pleased with the school's progress in the cleanup.

The bats had been concentrated in the gym and the area had not been used, according to Myrick. He said if the bat tests positive for rabies, DHEC will monitor the situation more closely.

Clarke said they removed students from adjacent rooms to where the bat was found on Wednesday. She said district maintenance personnel, along with an animal removal contractor, are checking all areas of the building, starting with the areas immediately adjacent to the affected classroom.

Greenville County Schools, after consulting with DHEC officials, decided to vacate the six classrooms in the quadrant of the building where the bat was discovered as a precautionary measure. 

Officials said work will continue inside the school after students have left and there is no evidence that there are other bats in the school. Clarke said a phone message was sent to parents today.

According to DHEC, bat bites are not rare and several cases are reported each year.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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