Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office
Department of Emergency Management
The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Avoid Bats This Summer!
From the Cowlitz County Department of Health & Human Services
July 17, 2014
Avoid Possible Exposure to Rabies by Avoiding Bats this Summer
Cowlitz Health Department Reminds Public to Avoid Human Contact with Bats
Bats are becoming more active with warmer weather, which means the possibility of human contact with bats is increasing. Bats play an important role in balance of nature and should not be harmed or killed needlessly. They eat insects, helping control pests; however bats can carry disease, including rabies, so it is important to avoid human contact with bats. Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Washington State. Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system and it is almost always fatal.
People can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. People usually know when they have been bitten by a bat, but bats have very small teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see.
If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat in your home and are not sure if you were exposed, for example – you wake up and find a bat in your bedroom, do not release the bat before calling the Cowlitz County Health Department to help determine if you could have been possibly exposed, and if testing of the bat is needed.
Do not touch wild animals, including 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.
Keep bats out of your living space by "bat proofing" your home; including screening windows and doors if left open, closing chimney dampers when not in use, and sealing any gaps in doors.
Pets may get rabies if bitten by a rabid animal. Protect them by getting them vaccinated routinely. Dogs, cats, and ferrets are now required to be vaccinated in Washington State. Consult your veterinarian for vaccine recommendations.