SPOKANE, Wash. - People are spending more time outdoors due to warmer temperatures, which increases the risk of contact with potentially rabid bats.
Two rabid bats were recently identified in Spokane County. One of the bats was found inside a house, where two adults were potentially exposed. The Washington State Public Health Labratory confirmed that the bat had rabies. The other bat was found on a homeowner's porch.
The individuals who potentially had contact with the bat are currently receiving vaccines for rabies,” said Dr. Bob Lutz, SRHD health officer. “Prompt administration of this treatment is highly effective in preventing rabies following exposure.”
To help prevent the spread of rabies, you are encouraged to avoid contact with bats, as well as vaccinate dogs and cats against the disease.
The Spokane Regional Health District released a new educational program, called BatSmart, to help people know what to do if they do encounter a rabid bat.
In Washington state, bats are the only carriers of rabies and rabid bats have been found in almost every county.
A bat bite or scratch may not be seen or felt due to the small size of a bat’s teeth and claws. People usually come in contact with a bat when it gets into a home through small openings or open windows, when they wake up to find a bat in their room, or when pets bring them into the home.
Four other rabid bats have been identified in Washington state in 2017. On average, approximately 280 bats are tested per year for rabies from Washington state, and about 13 of them test positive. In 2016, 20 rabid bats were identified in the state including three each in King, Spokane, and Chelan counties, two each in Lewis and Whatcom counties, and one each in Clark, Ferry, Grant, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, and Thurston counties.
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