A dead bat found in SW Bend has tested positive for rabies. Rabies is transmitted through the bites of an infected animal and while post exposure vaccination is effective, the best plan is prevention. Deschutes County Health Services reminds residents to take necessary precautions to protect people and pets from rabies:
- Avoid physical contact with bats – healthy, sick, alive, or dead. Be sure to keep children and pets away from bats.
- Do not hand feed or otherwise handle stray animals and wildlife.
- Vaccinate all dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies. This protects them and provides an immune barrier between humans and wild animals.
“There are two things people can do to protect themselves and their pets from rabies,” said Emilio Debess, Public Health Veterinarian for the Oregon Health Authority. “Never handle bats; and make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines.”
To protect your pet, make sure their rabies vaccinations are up to date. Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies at three to six months of age. After initial vaccination, a booster is required in one year and then every three years after that. Under Oregon law, dogs, cats and ferrets that do not have current vaccinations and are suspected of exposure to rabies must be euthanized or placed under strict quarantine for four months.
Bats play an important role in the ecosystem, especially in controlling insects, mostly at night. “If you find a bat during the daylight hours, it is most likely not healthy and should be avoided,” Debess added. Bats suffering from rabies will normally bite in self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always caused by exposure from a rabid animal. Exposure is usually through a bite but can also occur through scratches and saliva contact with broken skin. It is almost always fatal once symptoms begin.
If a person or pet is bitten by a bat, promptly report it to Deschutes County Environmental Health at 541-317-3114 and report the bite to your medical provider.
For more information about rabies
Oregon Health Authority:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/rabies.