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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Magen Johnson, Public Information Specialist – Public Health & Social Services, (360) 968-3422 or magen.johnson@co.thurston.wa.us 

First Positive Case of Rabies Found in a Bat in Thurston County
Only the second case of rabies found in a bat in Washington State this year

OLYMPIA- Thurston County Public Health & Social Services (PHSS) is reporting the first positive rabies bat in Thurston County, and the second overall in Washington State, this year. Owners of a cat that caught a bat sent the bat in for testing to the Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University last Thursday night. The lab reported it back as positive to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) on Monday. The owner of the cat kept her pet’s rabies vaccinations up-to-date and she did not handle the bat with her bare hands.

During warmer months, Thurston County residents may see more bats and wildlife. It is not possible to tell if a bat has rabies just from its appearance. Whether a bat is alive or dead, handling an infected bat can potentially transfer rabies. 

To prevent exposure to rabies: 
  • Don’t handle bats, alive or dead, or allow anyone in your family to handle one.
  • Don’t allow your pet to touch or play with a bat and keep your pets vaccinated against rabies, as per Washington law. If you find a bat in a bedroom or with an unattended child, try to safely capture the bat and have it tested. 
If you believe you or a family member may have touched a bat, or have been bitten or scratched by one, wash the area with soap and water and call PHSS during business hours at (360) 867-2667, or by calling 9-1-1 after hours and on weekends. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers a free printable info-sheet on how to bat-proof your home. 

To learn more about how to capture a bat indoors from the CDC visit: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/contact/capture.html

To read the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Living with Wildlife: Bats visit: https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/00605/wdfw00605.pdf

To learn more about vaccinating your pets, visit the Department of Health at: https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Rabies/PetVaccinationRequirement


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3