Environmental Health

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Environmental Health

Director: Jennifer Johnson
Bat Exposures

Human exposures to bats
Bats can carry the rabies virus.  To reduce the risk of rabies exposure from bats:
  • Do not handle wild animals, especially bats.
  • Teach your children never to touch or handle bats, even dead ones. Have your children tell an adult if they find a bat at home, at school, or with a pet.
  • If you see a wild animal leave it alone.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.
  • Keep bats out of your living space by “bat proofing” your home.

If you find a bat in your living space do not touch the bat.  Close the doors and windows to the room. Wait until the bat lands on the floor or a wall. Wearing leather or other thick gloves, capture the bat in a can or box without touching it and seal the container.  Do not place the container in the freezer.  Call Skagit County Public Health at 360-416-1500 to determine if the bat requires rabies testing.

If you or a family member is bitten or scratched by a bat, capture the bat in a can or box without touching it.  Make sure to wear leather or other thick gloves.  Seal the container.  Do not place the container in the freezer.  Contact your health care provider and report the exposure to Skagit County Public Health at 360-416-1500.  The bat will require rabies testing.

Pet exposures to bats

Bats that are ill with the rabies virus are more likely to be caught by cats and dogs.  Bats can infect pets with the rabies virus.  In Washington State all cats, dogs, and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies.  If your pet is exposed to a bat and is not currently vaccinated against rabies the pet must be confined and observed for 6 months.

If your pet is currently vaccinated against rabies and is exposed to a bat, call your vet and have the pet receive a rabies vaccine booster as soon as possible.