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Rabies Virus -- What We All Need to Know

bat
A baby Little Brown Bat.

For the most part when you see a bat at dusk or in the night flying and fluttering about with apparent abandon just stop and count your blessings that you have bats in your area working hard on your behalf! Each one of these amazing flying mammals is capable of catching and consuming upwards of 2000, yes, two thousand, mosquitoes and other flying insects in one evening! As we begin to gear up for more serious mosquito control in our efforts to combat the emergence of the West Nile Virus we should keep in mind how badly we need these hardworking pest control agents! So please make no attempt to disturb the natural life cycle of the bats in and around your world. I encourage you to learn more about bats by visiting the following web-site: http://www.batcon.org

We hope that this information will help you to cope with your bat encounter with some confidence and comfort. If you still have unanswered questions call your local health department. If the health department is closed give us a call at West Sound Wildlife. (206-855-9057)

What you should know about bats and rabies:

  • Bats are wild animals and normally avoid contact.
  • Bats that can be approached on the ground or other exposed places are sick.
  • Only a small number of bats are infected with the rabies virus.
  • Rabies is a fatal disease if left untreated.
  • Rabies is transmitted most frequently through the saliva of an infected animal when it bites into the skin of a person or other animal. However, since the rabies virus is found in the saliva of bats, contact with anything that may have bat saliva on it may potentially transmit rabies virus.
  • People should never directly handle a bat due to risk of contacting rabies virus.
  • Since bats are non-aggressive, you need only leave them alone to be safe.
  • Anyone bitten by a bat should call the Kitsap County Health Department at: 360-337-5239 or your local public health authority. Seek medical attention immediately.
What you should do when you encounter a bat:

If you encounter a bat, dead or alive, the most important thing to remember is to NOT touch it.

If the bat is alive and near or on the ground where people or pets may find it: Call the health department. (In Kitsap County: 360-337-5239)

If the bat is dead and located where curious children or pets may find it: Wearing latex gloves, scoop the bat into a sealable container such as a coffee can, cover and tape the container and dispose of it in the trash. If you have any doubts regarding exposure place the coffee can in a disposable cooler with plenty of ice or blocks of frozen 'gel packs' around it to keep the bat well chilled but not frozen, until you speak to someone at the health department.

If the bat is dead and there is no chance that people or other animals will make contact with it: Leave the bat where it is.


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