Public health officials are warning area residents to take precautions after a bat with rabies was found in a home located in the Salem area of Marion County, Oregon. The bat was tested on Monday, September 26, at the Oregon State University, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
According to Oregon Health Authority, bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state. About 8-10% of the bats tested for rabies are positive every year. So far, in 2022, seven bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon.
Authorities emphasize the main protection for humans is to make sure pets are vaccinated and to avoid contact with stray animals and wildlife. Public health officials advise taking extreme precautions before attempting to handle a bat. If it is necessary to pick up a bat, it is best to wear heavy gloves, use a shovel or both.
Do not approach bats, wildlife, or other mammals seen exhibiting odd behavior. Sick bats may be seen flopping around on the ground or otherwise acting unusual. If you find a sick bat or other sick wildlife on your property, take children and pets indoors.
If you do have an exposure (e.g., scratch or bite) from a bat, immediately clean the wound and seek medical attention. Report the incident to Marion County at 503-588-5346. If the bat has been captured, do not crush the bat or throw it away, as intact bats can be tested for rabies, which can help people avoid needing post-exposure rabies shots.
If your pet has encountered a bat or been bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600.
For more information about rabies, please visit the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division website at: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/RABIES/Pages/rabies.aspx.
You can also visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html.
Source: Marion County Health Department