Kittitas County health leaders reports first exposure to a rabid bat in 9 years

Kittitas County
This photo provided by Sherri and Brock Fenton/AAAS in March 2022 shows a vampire bat in flight. According to a report published Friday, March 25, 2022 in the journal Science Advances, scientists have figured out why vampire bats are the only mammals that can survive on a diet of only blood. (Sherri and Brock Fenton/AAAS via AP)

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Health leaders in Kittitas County returned a positive result for rabies in a bat that reportedly pestered a local woman and her dog.

According to the Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD), the bat was recently turned in by a community member for testing — although it’s unclear when or how the exposure occurred.

Health leaders say that the woman has been healthy and received post-exposure treatment. She is expected to recover from this without any long-term impacts. Furthermore, the dog is expected to be okay since it was up to date on its rabies vaccines.

This was the first bat to test positive for rabies since 2013. Since 2008, only four bats in Kittitas County have tested positive for the disease. Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Washington state, according to the KCPHD.

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The Washington State Department of Health regularly tests bats, cats, dogs, and ferrets for rabies. This viral disease impacts the central nervous system, and while it’s rare, it’s not impossible for humans to contract it. Proper treatment after exposure can help human patients, but it’s always fatal to humans when it’s not treated properly.

Anyone who finds a bat in their home is urged to refrain from touching it. Kittitas County health leaders say to wear thick gloves when trying to capture them inside a can or box. Once the animal is sealed inside, you should call your local health department to determine whether you, a pet or a roommate were exposed.

For more information on rabies and how the DOH views this disease, click here.


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