Public health officials are warning area residents to take precautions after a rabid bat was found in a rural area of Marion County west of Woodburn.
A dog owned by a resident in the area came into contact with a bat on August 28, 2020. The bat was sent to Oregon State University for testing. Results confirmed the bat was positive for rabies.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state. About 8 to 10 percent of the bats tested for rabies are positive every year. So far in 2020, six bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon and this is the second bat in Marion County that has tested positive for rabies.
Do not approach bats, wildlife, or other mammals exhibiting odd behavior. Authorities emphasize the main protection from rabies for humans is ensuring pets are vaccinated for rabies and avoiding contact with stray animals and wildlife. Check with your veterinarian on the rabies vaccine status of your pet if you’re not sure.
Public health officials advise taking extreme precautions before attempting to handle a bat. If it is necessary to pick up a bat, it is best to wear heavy gloves, use a shovel, or both. 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. If you do have an exposure (e.g., scratch or bite) from a bat, immediately clean the wound and seek medical attention. If your pet encounters a bat, or has been bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600.
In the event of bat contact, such as a bite or scratch, an attempt should be made to safely capture the bat for testing for the rabies virus. Efforts should be made to collect the bat without destroying the head and the bat should be kept in a cool place. Immediately seek medical attention and report the incident to Marion County at 503-588-5346.
For more information about rabies, please visit the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division website or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.