Rabid Bat Found Near Camas

File Photo: KATU

The confirmation of a rabid bat found outside a Camas home this week is a reminder to people to stay away from wild animals, especially bats, and to keep their pets vaccinated against rabies. Fortunately, no people were exposed to rabies.

Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system. All warm-blooded mammals including humans are susceptible to rabies. After exposure, prompt medical attention can prevent the disease. It is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.

“Anyone who wakes up and finds a bat in their sleeping quarters should immediately contact the Public Health department,” said Derel Glashower, epidemiologist. “We will advise you on how to capture the bat so it can be tested. We will also advise you on whether you will need any precautionary medical treatment.” To report a bat or determine whether an animal suspected of rabies qualifies for testing, call 360.397.8182 during business hours, or 888.727.6230 after hours.

In the Pacific Northwest, rabies is primarily carried by bats, although in other regions of the country the virus is sometimes carried by raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes. In developing countries, dogs are usually the principal rabies carrier.

Human rabies is an extremely rare disease in the United States. Since 1990 the number of reported cases in the United States has ranged from zero to seven cases annually. Almost all human rabies cases acquired in the United States since 1980 have been due to bat rabies virus. There have been two human rabies cases reported in Washington state in the last 25 years, both resulting from bat rabies virus.

The rabies virus is found in the saliva of a rabid animal. It is usually spread to humans by animal bites. Rabies could potentially be spread if the virus comes into contact with mucous membranes (eye, nose, respiratory tract), open cuts, wounds, or abraded skin. Person-to-person transmission of rabies has occurred only through tissue transplantation.

Anyone who is bitten or exposed to an animal that may be rabid should contact their doctor and local health department to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide whether or not to test the animal for rabies. Safe and effective treatment following potential rabies exposure should begin immediately after the exposure occurs.

To reduce the risk of rabies exposure:

  • Do not handle wild animals, especially bats.

  • Put screens on doors, windows, and fireplaces. Keep the damper closed.

  • Teach children not to touch or handle a live or dead bat if they find one.

  • If you see a wild animal leave it alone.

Vaccinate pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) to protect them and you from getting rabies. Consult your veterinarian for vaccine recommendations.

Source: Clark County Health


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