FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2021
Bat Rabies Detected in Columbia County
ST. HELENS, Oregon - Columbia County Public Health and Oregon Health Officials are reporting that a bat found in Clatskanie, Oregon tested positive for rabies, according to Oregon State University, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
A local resident found the bat during the day on Wednesday, August 4. So far, in 2021, 8 other bats have tested positive for rabies. Approximately 8% of the bats found every year in Oregon test positive for rabies.
People can take two precautions to protect themselves and their pets from bats and rabies," said Dr. Emilio DeBess, from the Oregon Health Authority. "Never handle bats, and make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines."
“Unfortunately, bats often carry rabies,” said DeBess. "If you find a bat during the daylight hours, it is probably not healthy and should be avoided.”
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that attacks an infected animal’s nervous system. The rabies strain found in the foxes tested is from bats. Other strains of rabies found in the U.S. (skunk, fox, and raccoon) are not found in Oregon. Rabies symptoms in wildlife, particularly foxes and raccoons, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability or aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling of saliva, and showing no fear of humans.
While bats play a valuable role in nature, people should stay away from bats and not handle them. Sick bats may be seen flopping around on the ground or otherwise acting unusual. If you find a sick bat or other sick wildlife on your property, take children and pets indoors and do not handle the bats without protection. Use a disposable container with a lid to scoop the animal into the containers and dispose of it in the trash. If a bat has had contact with a human or an animal, call your local health department for guidance.
Typically, animals acquire rabies by eating or coming in contact with a rabid bat. Very few bats in Oregon have rabies and rabies in other wildlife is even rarer. However, if you know your pet has encountered a bat or been bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian immediately.
We recommend you:
- Vaccinate your pets (dogs and cats) against rabies
- Watch wildlife from a distance. Don’t approach or attempt to handle wild animals.
- Do not feed wild animals.
- Keep garbage in secure containers and away from wildlife.
- Feed pets indoors.
- Seal openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns, and screen chimneys that might provide access to bats and other wildlife.