MEDFORD, Ore. - Public health officials are warning area residents to take precautions after a rabid bat was found in Medford, Oregon.
A Jackson County resident had physical contact with the bat on the evening of July 16. The bat was sent to Oregon State University for testing. Results confirmed the bat was positive for rabies. Based on the positive test, Jackson County Public Health recommended rabies prophylaxis for the exposed individual.
Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. It is transmitted from infected mammals to humans and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state. About 8-10% of the bats tested for rabies are positive every year. However, the bats that are tested are usually found because they are sick; the incidence of rabies in healthy bat populations is much lower. So far in 2019, 2 bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon.
Do not approach bats, wildlife, or other mammals seen exhibiting odd behavior. 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.
Authorities emphasize the main protection for humans is to make sure pets are vaccinated and avoid contact with stray animals and wildlife. 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.
In the event of bat contact such as a bite or scratch, an attempt should be made 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.