Benton County Health Department and State Oregon public health officials have confirmed that a bat has tested positive for rabies by the Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic laboratory in Corvallis. This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in Benton County in 2020.
On Wednesday, June 17, Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory informed Benton County Environmental Health that a resident of Benton County found a bat on their property that may have had contact with their domestic animal. The resident brought the bat to the Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for testing on Tuesday, June 16 where it tested positive for the rabies virus on Wednesday, June 17.
“Bats are the primary reservoir of rabies in wild animals for our area of the country,” said Robert Baker of Benton County Environmental Health. If you must handle a bat, it should be done with sturdy gloves or a tool such as a shovel. Direct contact with bats should always be avoided. In the event of bat contact such as a bite, an attempt should be made to safely capture the bat for testing for the rabies virus.
“All pet owners should make certain that their dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies. Protecting pets from rabies can provide a buffer zone of immune animals between humans and rabid wild animals such as bats,” said Emilio DeBess of the Oregon Health Authority.
Rabies symptoms in wildlife can include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability, aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling and showing no fear of humans. Animals displaying these behaviors should not be approached or handled. Animal control or wildlife authorities should be contacted instead.
Consult with your local county Health Department whenever there has been human or pet contact with bats or any animal that appears to be sick, injured or has bitten a human or pet.