S. Oregon rabies case prompts pets-shots reminder

Expert also warns: Never handle bats

MEDFORD, Ore. - Oregon health officials are reporting that a bat found dead inside a residence in Medford on Sunday tested positive for rabies, according to Oregon State University's Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory in Corvallis.

This is the first bat in Oregon to test positive for rabies in 2013. Last year, 14 bats (one in Jackson County), and three foxes (one in Jackson County) tested positive for rabies in Oregon. Each year, approximately 10 percent of bats tested are found to have rabies.

People can take two precautions to protect themselves and their pets from bats and rabies, said Dr. Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian in the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division.

"Never handle bats, and make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines," he said. "Unfortunately, bats carry rabies. If you find a bat during the daylight hours, it is probably not healthy and should be avoided."

Rabies is a viral disease o f mammals that attacks an infected animal's nervous system. The rabies strain found in the Oregon foxes is from bats. Other strains of rabies found in the U.S. (skunk and raccoon) are not found in Oregon.

Rabies symptoms in wildlife, particularly foxes, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability or aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling of saliva, and showing no fear of humans. Report this type of behavior to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) hotline at 1-866-968-2600.

People should stay away from bats and not handle them. If you find a live bat, contact your local ODFW office. If your pet has contact with a bat, contact your veterinarian.

Typically, animals acquire rabies by eating or coming in contact with a rabid bat. If you know your pet has encountered a bat or been bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian immediately

Vaccinate your pets (dogs and cats) against rabies.
Watch wildlife from a distance. Don't approach or attempt to handle wild animals.
Do not feed wild animals.
Keep garbage in secure containers and away from wildlife.
Feed pets indoors.
Seal openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns and screen chimneys that might provide access to bats and other wildlife.

More information about rabies can be found at the Oregon Health Authority's website: http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/Pages/disease.aspx?did=41

 Rabies Compendium can be found at  http://www.nasphv.org/Documents/RabiesCompendium.pdf

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