OLYMPIA – Thurston County Public Health & Social Services (PHSS) is reporting the first positive rabies bat in Thurston County, and the fourth overall in Washington State, this year.
On a particularly busy Monday, three separate bats were collected in Thurston County for testing. All three bats were flying around in county residents’ bedrooms where people were sleeping. Fortunately, all three bats were captured and could be tested. One bat was caught by a cat, another by a dog, and the third by the residents.
The bats were tested by the Washington State Public Health Lab and PHSS received the positive result late yesterday, Tuesday, August 23. The individuals exposed to the rabies-positive bat are starting preventative vaccinations. The cat that caught the rabies-positive bat is up to date on its rabies vaccinations. It will receive a booster dose of rabies vaccine for added protection and will be observed at home by its owner for 45 days to ensure it stays healthy.
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.