Rats, Bats, Birds, and Bugs

This program includes control of illness transmission from critters to humans. Primary concern are bats, rats, certain insects, dogs, and cats. If you have concerns about becoming ill from any of those critters, contact our office for further information at 360-867-2667.

  • Animal Bites
    • Bites or scratches from dogs or cats in Washington State should be cleaned with soap and water. Seek medical attention, especially with cat bites as they frequently become infected. There is a very low level of rabies concern for dogs and cats in Washington but contact us or your health care provider to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide if the animal needs to be quarantined for observation or tested for rabies. During business hours call Thurston County Public Health & Social Services at (360) 867-2667. 

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  • Bats
    • What should I do if I find a bat in my living space?

      Never handle a bat with bare hands. Call Thurston County Public Health & Social Service to determine if the bat needs to be tested for rabies. Only capture bats that have had direct contact with a person or pet, or if the bat was found in the room of someone who may have had contact with the bat. Instructions for safely capturing bats for rabies testing (PDF). Watch Public Health-Seattle & King County's video on how to safely capture a bat in your home.

      During business hours, call us at (360) 867-2667. After hours or on the weekend, call 1-800-986-9050.

      How common is human rabies and what is the source of the rabies virus?

      Human rabies is an extremely rare disease in this country. Since 1990 the number of reported cases in the United States has ranged from one to seven cases annually. Almost all human rabies cases acquired in the United States since 1980 have been due to bat rabies virus. When human rabies occurs due to exposure outside of the United States it is usually the result of the bite of a rabid dog. In Washington, there have been two cases of human rabies identified during the last 25 years. In 1995, a four-year-old child died of 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 virus. In 2021, three deaths in the United States were due to rabies from bat exposures where the person did not seek medical treatment.

      For more information on rabies: Rabies | Washington State Department of Health

      • Keep bats out of your living space by bat-proofing (PDF) your home. Living with Wildlife-Bats, Department of Fish and Wildlife. 


  • Mice and Rats
    • Wild mice and rats can spread disease (hantavirus), destroy things in our homes and start fires by chewing electric 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 that are carried by rodents. One of these, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), although rare, can be extremely serious. 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.

      Hantavirus - WA State Department of Health fact sheet
      Rodent Control and Hantavirus - Dr. Yu article on cleanup of rat or mouse infested areas

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  • West Nile Virus and Mosquitos
    • We no longer track or test dead birds for West Nile Virus.

      West Nile virus (WNV) is a serious illness that can affect people, horses, certain types of birds, and other animals. West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, however, less than 1% of mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Of the people who get infected, less than 1% develop a severe illness, which can sometimes be fatal.

      In 1999, WNV first appeared in the U.S. in New York. Since that time, it has spread rapidly throughout the country. In 2002, the virus was found for the first time in birds and horses in Washington. Since 2009, almost all of the West Nile Virus detections have been in Eastern Washington, particularly Benton, Franklin, Grant, and Yakima Counties. Pierce County mosquito samples in 2018 were positive for WNV and the area is being monitored to see how wide-spread WNV-positive mosquitoes are. This effort includes mosquito monitoring in Thurston County.

      West Nile Virus Activity in Washington

      West Nile virus 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. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit WNV when they feed on humans or other animals. There have been about a dozen human cases in Washington each year since 2009, most acquired in Eastern Washington.

      For more detailed information on this virus please go to Washington State (DOH) West Nile Virus Information and Prevention.


Pests (WA DOH)
Rabies Information (WA DOH)
Hanta Virus (WA DOH)
Tick Bites (CDC)
West Nile Virus (CDC)

Contact Us

Environmental Health
The Atrium
3000 Pacific Ave SE
Olympia WA 98501-8809

Open Monday through Friday
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Telephone: (360) 867-2500 or (360) 867-2626

Animal Bites, Bat Testing,
Rodent Questions and
Hanta and West Nile Virus

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