OLYMPIA – A live bat was discovered by preschool children on Tuesday and test results came back positive for rabies Wednesday afternoon. Thurston County Public Health and Social Services (PHSS) staff contacted all of the families affected by this event to offer assistance.
The preschool children reported finding the live bat to their teachers, who contacted the County Health Department right away. Because the children are very young, it is unclear whether any of them had any contact with the bat. Parents were made aware that in circumstances such as these, PHSS recommends that the children get the rabies vaccine. The cost, and extent to which this vaccine is covered by insurance, varies.
Roughly 6% of bats carry rabies in Washington State, and while transmission of the virus is extremely rare, the disease is deadly. Rabies can be transmitted through bites, cuts or scratches, and local bats’ teeth and claws are so small, a person could potentially be bitten or scratched without noticing. Bats are an important member of our area’s wildlife but they should be enjoyed from a distance.
What should you do if you find a bat, dead or alive?
- If a live bat is discovered in an area where people sleep, contact the Thurston County Health Department for guidance and assistance at (360) 867-2667.
- Remind children to not touch wild animals and to report it to staff or an adult.
- If a wild animal (live or dead) is discovered, keep the children and pets away and either remove the animal or remove the children and pets from the immediate area.
- A dead animal that was not touched by children or staff should be disposed of by placing it in a doubled plastic bag and disposing of it in the garbage.
- Do not touch the animal with bare hands.
- Wash hands afterwards.
- A dead animal that was touched by children or staff should be double bagged and kept for possible examination or testing by the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department (360) 867-2667. When in doubt about if the dead animal was touched, keep the body and contact the health department for advice.
- The best way to protect your pets is to make sure they are current on their rabies vaccinations, even those pets that never go outside (state law requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated).