State Health officials warning regarding rabies infected bat rising in the Washington. Four bats were found to be infected in Snohomish and Chelan counties with the viral disease.
While state health records show no rabid bats have been detected in Yakima County in 10 years, Yakima Health District records show there have been 32 cases of people possibly being exposed to rabies, mostly through dog bites.
Rabies is 100 percent preventable disease. However it’s 100 percent deadly if it’s not caught,” said Liz Coleman, state Department of Health spokeswoman. Last year, 343 people in Washington suffered from treatment for possible rabies exposure.
Washington is home to 15 species of bats according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Bats will eat their own weight in insects each night, and can be found throughout the state. Health officials say bats are the most common animal in the state to carry the rabies virus, representing nearly three-quarters of the animals found to have the disease.
The bats are tested when they appear sick after being found outside during the daytime, Coleman said. The test involves killing the bat and checking its brain for signs of the virus.
Statewide, Yakima was one of 15 counties that had no bats that tested positive for rabies from 2013 to 2017, while King County had the most in that time period.
Heath officials say people should keep their pets’ rabies vaccinations current, and to not touch a bat with bare hands, as rabies can be spread if the animal’s saliva comes in contact with a cut on the person’s hand.