updated 5/17/2007 3:49:49 PM ET 2007-05-17T19:49:49

Catching a bat in a school basement and keeping it as a classroom pet is a great way to learn — about rabies.

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Two staff members at Trinity Lutheran School are getting a weekslong series of rabies shots after a bat kept in a locked terrarium tested positive for the disease.

On May 9, seventh- and eighth-grade teacher Steve Coniglio used a stick and a bucket to capture the bat, which died two days later.

The bat had been displayed in classrooms and students gave it crickets, but Susan Tucker, head teacher at the central Wyoming school, said Coniglio made sure students did not handle the animal.

State and county health officials on Tuesday interviewed all 95 staff members and students at the school and decided that Coniglio and a teaching assistant who cleaned the cage after the bat died needed to be treated as a precaution, said Marty Stensaas, manager for Fremont County Public Health Nursing.

Vaccine was also available in case parents wanted their children to get the roughly $3,500 series of shots.

Rabies is a viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. It attacks the central nervous system and, if untreated, can lead to anxiety, confusion, paralysis, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and fear of water. Death usually occurs within a week after symptoms begin.

The disease has been discovered in skunks, raccoons and a horse in Fremont County over the past few years.

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