Josephine County Issues Caution after Rabid Bat Found

County officials have some tips for how to prevent or avoid the spread of rabies, which is especially common among bats.

Posted: Jun 29, 2018 11:18 AM

WILLIAMS, Ore. — After finding a rabid bat in the Willliams area this week, Josephine County health officials have issued a cautionary notice on how the public can avoid or deal with the rabies virus.

"Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always caused by exposure to a rabid animal," county health officials say. The virus is generally transmitted through a bite, but it can be transferred through scratches or saliva contact with broken skin.

Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms of the virus begin appearing.

So what can the public do to prevent contracting the rabies virus? Here are a few tips:

  1. Vaccinating pets against rabies is a great idea—not only does it protect your beloved animals, but it also provides a "buffer zone" between humans and rabid wild animals.
  2. If you suspect exposure to rabies—for example, if you are scratched or bitten by a wild animal—immediately clean the wound.
  3. If bitten by a bat and the bat has been captured, secure it to avoid further exposure and then take it to a licensed veterinarian or County Animal Control for rabies testing. This can help you avoid rabies shots post-exposure if they prove to be unnecessary.
According to County health officials, nearly 10 percent of bats tested in Oregon since the year 2000 have been positive for the rabies virus. However, killing bats indiscriminately is never recommended—they provide numerous benefits to the environment, including the consumption of thousands of insects every day.

For more information on this and other public health topics, you can contact Cat Metz, the Josephine County Communicable Disease Nurse at (541) 474-5325 x.2246, and Dr. Emilio DeBess, with the Oregon Public Health Division at (971) 673-1111.

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