A bat found in Lake County has tested positive for rabies, Lake County Public Health has confirmed.
Administrator Mary Wilkie said tests were performed at the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory after a Lake County resident was bitten by the bat. The bite victim underwent a series of rabies vaccinations, which are very successful at preventing rabies infection if started soon after exposure. Rabies is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, and while post-exposure vaccination is effective, Wilkie said the best plan is prevention.
“People should avoid contact with bats and vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies,” she said.
Craig Foster, biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), agrees.
“While bats play a valuable role in nature, contact with humans should be avoided.”
Sick bats may be seen flopping around on the ground or otherwise acting unusual. If encountering a sick bat or other sick wildlife on property, take children and pets indoors and call the ODFW at 541-947-2950. If a bat becomes trapped inside a home, leave the room and close the door, then call ODFW for assistance in safely removing the bat.
To protect pets, make sure rabies vaccinations are up to date. Lakeview Animal Hospital Veterinarian Rod Ferry advises that dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies at three to six months of age. Initial vaccination takes about 28 days to provide peak protection for pets. After initial vaccination, a booster is required in one year and then every three years after that. Under Oregon law, dogs and cats that do not have current vaccinations and are suspected of exposure to rabies must be euthanized or placed under quarantine for six months. Ferry also recommends that horses and valuable livestock should be vaccinated. Yearly boosters are required for large animals.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state. So far this year, one other bat has tested positive, in Yamhill County, and a total of seven bats tested positive for rabies in 2013. Authorities emphasize that the main protection for humans is to make sure pets are vaccinated, and to avoid contact with stray animals and wildlife.
For further information contact Mary Wilkie at Lake County Public Health 541-947-6045, Emilio DeBess DVM MPH State Public Health Veterinarian at 971-673-1111, Craig Foster, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 541-947-2950, or Rod Ferry, DVM at 541-947-3383.