ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) - Chemung County Health Department officials are warning residents about the possible exposure to rabies.

The health department is issuing this warning as bats are more active this time of the year. Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system in humans and other mammals. Once the symptoms of rabies show, it has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate.

The health department says a person may contract rabies through a bite, scratch, or saliva from an infected animal.

To help avoid the risk of rabies, the health department recommends that if you find a bat in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with health department officials.

More information on rabies and rabies prevention and instructions for safely catching a bat, is on the Health Department website including information about the next free rabies clinic.

To report a bat in the home, contact Environmental Health Services of the Chemung County Health Department at (607) 737-2019.