With some discovered in homes and along city sidewalks, 21 bats tested positive for rabies in Washington state this year.
Washington State Department of Health said Monday that 12 of those bats were found in public parks and private homes in the month of August alone – making this August the highest in a decade for rabid bats being found.
The rabid bats have been captured and euthanized, but anyone who touched them may be at risk of rabies, which can be fatal once symptoms begin. If you’re concerned about exposure, call King County Public Health immediately at 206-296-4774 to get information about preventative treatment.
It’s unclear if the uptick in numbers of submitted bats for testing this summer comes from increased public awareness or if it involves other factors. Last year, 20 bats tested positive for rabies.
Look at the map below and click on a county for the number of bats found. You can also scroll down to read about exposure and what to do if you find a bat.
Any mammal can be infected with the rabies virus, which is found in the saliva of an animal and is usually transmitted by a bite or scratch.
Most bats do not carry rabies; typically public health laboratories test between 200 and 300 a year with between only three and 10 found to be rabid.
But they are the primary reservoir of the virus in the northwest.
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More than 15 species of bats live in Washington, and the most common seen in human habitat include the little brown bat, Yuma myotis, big brown bat, pallid bat, and California myotis.
People can reduce their encounter with ill bats by making sure their home screens and doors or closed. Bats may enter homes accidentally or roost there, according to the health department.
But if you do encounter a bat, here’s what to do:
- If you find a bat inside your house, call King County Public Health at 206-296-4774 to discuss the situation and to determine whether the bat needs to be tested for rabies. Public Health tests bats for rabies free of charge under certain circumstances.
- You can also call the following are services experienced with bat control: Northwest Nuisance Wildlife Control at 1-888-868-3063; Pest Control Northwest at 425-823-2676; Critter Control at 206-431-6833.
- If the bat is alive, do not let it go! Knock it to the floor with a broom or other object, and cover it with a wastebasket or other container. Scoop it into a box or plastic storage container with a secure lid without touching it or wear heavy leather gloves to pick it up and put it in the box.
- Use a shovel or gloves to put a dead bat in a box for testing. Do not throw it away.
Cox Media Group