BEND, Ore. - The Oregon State Public Health Lab has confirmed that a recent deceased bat has tested positive for rabies in Deschutes County, officials said Wednesday.
Of the sick and dead bats tested in Oregon during the last 10 years, about 9.5 percent have had rabies.
"This is a good reminder to take some necessary precautions to protect yourself and your pets from rabies," said Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian in the Oregon Department of Human Services. "Never handle bats, and make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines."
Bats are an important and interesting part of our ecosystem. They provide many benefits like insect control-they eat mosquitoes and can catch over 1,000 insects an hour. Unfortunately, bats can also carry rabies and infect other animals and/or humans.
"If a bat is out during daylight hours, it is probably not healthy and should be avoided," said DeBess.
If a person or pet does come in contact with a bat or is bitten by an animal, promptly report it to the Deschutes County Health Department at (541) 322-7418.
If an unvaccinated pet is exposed to rabies, the recommendation is that it be euthanized. This is why it so important to make sure pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccination.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always caused by exposure to a rabid animal.
Exposure is usually through a bite but can also occur through scratches. It is almost always fatal, once symptoms begin.
But human rabies is rare in the U.S., with two to six cases per year.
For more information, call (541) 322-7418 or visit www.deschutes.org