Thursday, June 24, 2021
June 24, 2021

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Washington health officials report first rabies-positive bat of 2021

The Columbian
Published:

SEATTLE — The Seattle and King County Public Health Department reported the first rabies-positive bat of 2021 on Monday.

A Sammamish resident recently had a close call when they found a bat in their yard and attempted to move it with gardening gloves, the Seattle Times reported.

“The bat became aggressive and bit the resident multiple times,” the health department said in a news release.

The resident alerted the health department and the bat tested positive for rabies, officials said. The person received post-exposure treatment to protect them from developing the disease.

Human and bat encounters tend to increase as bats come out of hibernation in the spring. Rabies can be spread through bare skin contact or saliva, public-health officials warn.

Rabies is nearly always fatal once symptoms begin, the health department said. It is preventable only if treated before symptoms appear. Of the 45 bats that were tested for rabies in 2020, five were positive.

“Bats with rabies are found in every part of Washington,” Washington State Department of Health epidemiologist Hanna Oltean said.

Pets, including dogs, cats and ferrets, should be vaccinated routinely, and no one should handle wild animals like bats even if they are dead, she said.

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