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June 12, 2018

May’s rabid bat stats highest in 20 years

Since May 1, four bats found in Washington have tested positive for rabies. This is the highest number identified in May since 1998. If you, a family member, or pet encounter a bat, call your local Health Department. 
Take precautions if a bat, whether dead or alive, is found. Avoid contact with bats and other wild animals; do not interact with these animals. If you, a family member, or pet have had contact with a bat, attempt to safely capture it, keep it contained away from people, and call your local Health Department for advice on next steps.

While all mammals can become infected with the rabies virus, bats are the most common animal in Washington that carry rabies. In 2017, 22 bats were tested and found to have the virus. This number is up from 2016, where 20 rabid bats were identified. The Washington State Public Health Laboratories test between 200 and 300 bats per year. Typically, 3-10% of the bats submitted for testing are found to be rabid.
It is also important to protect your pets by ensuring that their rabies vaccinations are current. More detailed precautions and information can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.
It is also common for pets, such as cats, to bring bats inside the house. While your pet may be vaccinated for rabies, it may expose you and other family members to the virus. Make sure your pet is restricted from free roaming in and out of your house during the night.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Skagit County Public Health at 360-416-1500.