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Bats are the animal most often found to have rabies in Washington. Never handle a bat with bare hands!

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that affects mammals, including humans. Only a small percentage of bats are infected with rabies, but rabid bats are found in Washington every year. It is impossible to know whether a bat has rabies without lab testing, so contact with bats should always be avoided.

Bat encounters increase in the spring and summer as bats become more active. Keeping bats out of your home is the easiest way to reduce the chance of rabies exposure. Simple bat-proofing steps include adding screens to windows and doors and covering exterior openings that could allow bats to get inside.

What is rabies?

  • Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system
  • Rabies infection is almost 100% fatal if not treated
  • All warm-blooded mammals, including humans, can be infected with rabies
  • Learn more about rabies

exposure to rabies:

  • Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually a bat
  • Exposure most often occurs through a bite, scratch, or bare skin contact with saliva
  • It is not possible to know if an animal has rabies just by looking at it. Testing is needed to confirm rabies.
  • Bat bites and scratches are not always noticeable.
    • A clear bite mark might not always be seen because bats have very small teeth
    • Treatment to prevent rabies may be needed if a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, an unattended child, a person with physical or developmental disabilities, or someone who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

Preventing Rabies Exposure:

  • Avoid contact with bats and never touch a bat with bare hands.
  • Teach children never to touch bats, and to tell an adult if they find a bat at home, at school or with a pet.
  • Keep bats out of your house by "bat-proofing" your home.
  • Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance; do not approach or attempt to feed or touch them.
  • Do not attempt to pick up a sick or injured bat or other animal.
  • Vaccinate your pets.

what to do if someone is exposed:

If someone has bare skin contact with a bat, or might have had contact with a bat:

  • Attempt to safely capture the bat for testing if possible.
  • Wash the bite, scratch, or contact area immediately with soap and water for at least 10 minutes
  • Contact your healthcare provider and/or Kitsap Public Health District for guidance
  • If you think your pet was exposed to rabies, contact your veterinarian


VIDEO: Safely capturing a bat
FLYER: How to safely capture a bat


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