Animal Bites, Rodents, & Insects
A zoonotic disease or zoonosis (plural is zoonoses) is any disease of animals that can be transmitted to people. This program includes control and prevention of such diseases. Bats, rodents, certain insects, and birds are animals of primary concern.
Animal bites can be extremely painful and often raise concerns about rabies. In Washington, bats are the most common mammal affected by rabies. Rabies is extremely rare in other animals in Washington, including pet dogs and cats. Bites and scratches from pet dogs or cats should be cleaned with soap and water. If the bite becomes infected, seek medical attention immediately. Contact Thurston County Public Health & Social Services or your health care provider to determine if you had a potential rabies exposure and if the animal should be tested. Washington State Department of Health publishes a list of bats that have tested positive for rabies in the state this year.
What should I do if I find a bat in my living space?
Never handle a bat with bare hands. Only capture bats that have had direct contact with a person or pet, or bats found in a sleeping area. Click here to view instructions for safely capturing bats for rabies testing (PDF), or watch Public Health-Seattle & King County's video on how to safely capture a bat in your home.
How common is human rabies?
Rabies in humans is extremely rare in the US but causes thousands of deaths throughout other parts of the world where rabies vaccine is less readily available. Since 1990, the number of reported cases in the US has ranged from one to seven cases annually. Since 1980, almost all cases of human rabies acquired in the US have been from bat rabies. In Washington, there have been two cases of human rabies identified during the last 25 years. In 1995, a four-year-old child died from rabies four weeks after a bat was found in her bedroom; and in 1997, a 64-year-old man was diagnosed with rabies. These two Washington residents were infected with bat rabies.
- Keep bats out of your living space by bat-proofing your home. Living with Wildlife-Bats, Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Pets can get rabies if bitten by a rabid animal. Dogs, cats, and ferrets are now required to be vaccinated in Washington. Protect them and yourself by getting them vaccinated as recommended by their veterinarian.
- For more information on rabies visit: Rabies (WA DOH)
Providers and veterinarians must report possible human rabies exposure immediately.
View the Washington State Guidelines for Human Rabies Prevention here for more information on possible exposures.
During business hours (8 am-5 pm Monday-Friday), call Thurston County Public Health & Social Services. Please note holiday hours could affect
availability (visit our holiday page for closures).
|Outside of business hours or on the weekend, call WA Poison Control
Rodents can spread disease, destroy things in our homes and start fires by chewing electrical wires. Find out how to avoid problems by keeping rodents out of your home and work environment. For more information, see Rodent Prevention.
Hantaviruses are a group of viruses carried by rodents. One of these, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), can be extremely serious and sometimes fatal. Humans can contract the disease when they come into contact with infected rodents or their urine and droppings. Rodent control in and around the home remains the primary strategy for preventing hantavirus infection. Find out how to properly clean up rodent-infested areas in your home with 'Rodent Control and Hantavirus'.
Clean up rodent urine and droppings:
- Air out enclosed areas for at least 30 minutes by opening doors and windows. Leave the enclosed area while it's being aired out. Don't vacuum, sweep, or stir up dust in and around rodent contaminated areas; this can cause contaminated dust particles to be inhaled. A dust mask may provide some added protection from dust particles, they do not provide protection against viruses.
- Put on rubber or plastic gloves.
- Spray urine and droppings with bleach solution or an EPA-registered disinfectant until very wet. Let it soak for 5 minutes or according to instructions on the disinfectant label.
- Use paper towels to wipe up the urine or droppings and cleaning product.
- Throw the paper towels in a covered garbage can that is regularly emptied.
- Mop or sponge the area with a disinfectant. Clean all hard surfaces including floors, countertops, cabinets, and drawers.
- Wash gloved hands with soap and water or a disinfectant before removing gloves.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water after removing gloves or use a waterless alcohol-based hand rub when soap is not available, and hands are not visibly soiled.
Thurston County Public Health and Social Services no longer tracks or tests birds for West Nile Virus (WNV).
WNV is a serious illness that affects people, horses, certain types of birds, and other animals. WNV is transmitted by mosquito bites, however, less than 1% of mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Of those who are infected, less than 1% develop a severe illness.
WNV is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds that have high levels of WNV in their blood. WNV first appeared in the US in New York in 1999 and has since spread rapidly throughout the country. In Washington State, WNV first appeared in 2002 in infected birds and horses. There have been around a dozen human cases in Washington each year since 2009, mostly in Eastern Washington.
For more information on WNV visit: West Nile Virus (WA DOH)