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Rabid bat found on the sidewalk near the corner of Ballard Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW in Seattle

Summary

A rabid bat was found on the sidewalk on July 19, 2020, near the corner of Ballard Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. If you or someone you know had any contact with a bat near this area, seek medical evaluation immediately or contact Public Health.

Story

A rabid bat was found in the Ballard neighborhood on the sidewalk at Ballard Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW. A witness reports that an adult woman picked up the bat in an attempt to move it into a bush.

Anyone who might have had contact with this bat (even if not bitten) could be at risk and should seek medical evaluation immediately or call Public Health at 206-296-4774 to determine if rabies preventative treatment is necessary.

Rabies can be life-threatening but is treatable if caught early before any symptoms develop.

Seattle Animal Shelter was notified on July 19 that a citizen saw an adult woman pick up a bat off the sidewalk with her bare hands and move it off of the sidewalk. A Seattle Animal Shelter officer picked up the bat which was still living. The bat then died overnight and was sent for rabies testing and reported as positive on July 21. Public Health conducted an investigation and did not identify anyone who had contact information for the woman who was witnessed to have touched the bat. No other exposed individuals have been identified.


Who is at risk

Any person or animal that touched or had contact with the bat or its saliva could be at risk of getting rabies, which is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. Fortunately, rabies can be prevented if treatment is given before symptoms appear.

Rabies is treatable if caught before symptoms appear, so identifying anyone who has had contact with the bat as soon as possible is important," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "Contact includes touching a bat, being bitten, scratched, or any other bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva."


Rabies and pets

If your pet might have been exposed to this bat, contact your veterinarian immediately. Dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses should be current on their rabies vaccine but will need to be revaccinated if they had contact with a bat.


More about rabies

Rabies is dangerous, but treatable if caught early before any symptoms develop:

  • If someone has had contact with a bat, treatment can prevent infection. This treatment should be given as soon as possible.
  • Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal once symptoms begin.

The virus is found in the saliva of an animal with rabies and is usually transmitted by a bite or scratch. Because rabies is a life threatening disease, medical advice must be sought promptly if a bat comes into contact with humans or animals.

If you find a bat:

  • If you find a bat inside your house, call Public Health at 206-296-4774 to discuss the situation and to determine whether the bat needs to be tested for rabies. Public Health tests bats for rabies at no charge under certain circumstances.
  • Live bats should be captured and might need to be tested for rabies if:
    • If the bat had direct contact with a person’s bare skin or with a pet OR
    • If a person wakes up to a bat in the room in which they were sleeping
  • Use a shovel or gloves to put a dead bat in a box for testing. Do not throw it away!
  • Open windows and allow bats to leave your home if they have not come into contact with a person or pets. Close doors to others parts of your home and secure pets away from the location of the bat.

For more information about how to safely capture a bat in your home and how to safely avoid bats, visit: www.kingcounty.gov/bats