Bat tests positive for rabies in Salem area, health officials say

FILE - "Indiana bat population increased after white-nose syndrome"
FILE - "Indiana bat population increased after white-nose syndrome"
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 2:37 PM PDT
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - Public health officials confirmed on Thursday that a bat found in a Salem area home earlier in the week has tested positive for rabies, according to Marion County Public Health.

Bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state, and about 8-10% of bats tested for rabies are positive every year. Seven bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon so far this year.

SEE ALSO: Cat gets kudos for killing rabid bat in home

The primary way people can protect themselves is to make sure all pets are vaccinated and to avoid contact with stray animals and wildlife. Public health officials advise taking extreme precautions before attempting to handle a bat, including using heavy gloves, a shovel or both.

“Do not approach bats, wildlife, or other mammals seen exhibiting odd behavior,” health officials said. “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.”

Any direct encounters with a bat should be reported to county health officials, and if possible, the bat should be captured intact for testing.

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“If you do have an exposure (e.g., scratch or bite) from a bat, immediately clean the wound and seek medical attention,” health officials said. “Intact bats can be tested for rabies, which can help people avoid needing post-exposure rabies shots.”

If a pet has encountered a bat or been bitten by a wild animal, contact a veterinarian immediately or call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600.

For more information about bats and rabies, people can visit the Oregon Health Authority website.