EAGLE POINT, Ore. — Public health officials in Jackson County are warning about the dangers of rabies after a rabid bat made "physical contact" with someone in Eagle Point earlier this month.
The incident occurred on the afternoon of July 13, according to Jackson County Health & Human Services. In a statement, health officials did not detail the circumstances of that encounter, but said that the bat was sent to Oregon State University for testing. Results from those tests confirmed that the bat was positive for the rabies virus.
Public health officials recommended rabies prophylaxis for the exposed person—which, according to the CDC, usually includes both the rabies vaccine and a passive antibody, or human rabies immune globulin. This generally occurs on the day of exposure, followed by more shots of the vaccine on days 3, 7, and 14 following exposure. The CDC says that not all of these doses are necessary if the individual has already received a rabies vaccination prior to the incident.
Bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state, according to the Oregon Health Authority. About 8-10 percent of bats tested for rabies produce a positive result every year. Since the beginning of 2018, seven bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon.
Officials urge the public to not approach bats, wildlife or other mammals acting strangely. If you find a bat, stray animal or other wildlife on your property, take children and pets indoors and call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600.
The best protection against rabies for humans is to ensure that pets are vaccinated, in addition to avoiding contact with stray animals. 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.
If you do receive a bite or scratch from a bat, you should try 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 Jackson County at 541-774-8045.