MOSES LAKE, Wash. - Children in a Moses Lake family are receiving rabies treatment as a precaution after they were found playing with several dead bats. The Grant County Health District recommended the rabies treatment. The bats were too damaged to be tested for rabies.
Rabies is a rare viral illness that is almost always fatal. In the last 20 years there have been two cases of human rabies in Washington. The primary animals that carry rabies in the northwest United States are bats. The Washington State Department of Health reports between 5-10% of bats submitted for testing are found to be rabid.
Bats tested for rabies are more likely to test positive for rabies because they tend to be sick and injured bats; less than 1% of healthy bats are infected with rabies. A rabid bat was identified in Pasco, WA earlier this month. The rabies virus is found in the saliva (spit/drool) of a rabid animal. It is usually spread to people through animal bites or scratches. Rabies can also be spread if the virus comes into contact with eyes, nose, respiratory tract, open cuts or wounds.
The Grant County Health District wants to remind residents to never touch bats. You should seek immediate medical attention if you are bitten by, or come into direct contact with a bat. If you find one in your living space, please call the Grant County Health District as soon as possible. Health District staff will help you determine if any people or pets in your home may have been exposed and can advise you how to safely capture a bat to be tested for rabies. This is also a good reminder for residents to "Bat proof" your home by making sure open windows have screens and that other small entry points—such as cracks, crevices, or holes—are sealed.
Washington State Rabid Bat Map for 2012: www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/5100/rabidbatsWA_2012.pdf
Washington State Dept of Health Bat & Rabies Prevention Brochure: http://here.doh.wa.gov/materials/bats-rabies-prevention/24_BatRabies_E99L.pdf