Rabid Bats Found in Columbia and Walla Walla Counties
July 6, 2023
Columbia County—Rabid bats were identified in Walla Walla and Columbia Counties in June. Columbia County Health Department received notification on June 28, 2023 from the Washington State Public Health Laboratory of a bat presumed to have rabies. There was human exposure to this bat and the exposed person is undergoing preventative treatment from a healthcare provider.
This is the first positive case of rabies in a bat in Columbia County for several years, according to the CCHD.
In addition, Walla Walla and King Counties each had one rabid bat identified in June bringing the state’s total for 2023 to three positive cases.
Bats are the primary carriers of rabies in Washington State and have been found in almost every county in the state through the years.
Eastern Washington’s Regional Medical Officer, Dr. Bob Lutz, said, “While an estimated 1% of bats in the wild are affected with rabies, you should always be cautious around bats, as they’re the primary source of rabies in Washington State.”
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus carried in saliva and spread through animal bites or scratches. People exposed to a potentially rabid animal can prevent rabies by seeking prompt medical treatment. Rabies infections are almost always fatal in people who do not receive preventative or post-exposure treatment.
To help prevent exposure, keep dogs, cats, and ferrets vaccinated, avoid handling bats, and immediately wash animal bites with soap and water.
Contact your healthcare provider and county health department to investigate the potential for rabies exposure, determine the need for treatment, and help to decide if an animal needs to be tested for rabies.
For more information on rabies, visit DOH at https://tinyurl.com/3yprdytx and learn how to reduce the risk of rabies exposure.