News Briefs

Lane County public health identifies fourth case of rabies in a bat

Lane County Public Health has been notified of a positive case of rabies in a bat following testing at the Oregon State Veterinary Lab in Corvallis. This is the fourth case of rabies identified in a Lane County bay. A South Eugene resident collected the bat on their property and submitted it to Lane County Environmental Health. No human contact is suspected at this time.

“This is the fourth case of bat rabies in 2021, which is somewhat unusual this early in the year,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County  Senior Public Health Officer. “this uptick reminds us it is always a good practice to stay away from bats and to make sure your pets are  vaccinated for rabies.”
Rabies in bats has been documented in 49 states and is endemic in Oregon’s bat population.

Recent data suggest that transmission of the rabies virus can occur from minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats. Human and domestic animal contact with bats should be minimized, and bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons or be kept as pets.

In all instances of potential human exposures involving bats, the bat in question should be safely collected, if possible, and submitted for rabies diagnosis. Safe collection means not actually handling the bat, but rather using a utensil to pick the by up and place it in a safe container that cannot be punctured and reported to Lane County Public Health. Rabies postexposure prophylaxis is recommended for all persons with a bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to a bat unless the bat is available for testing and is negative for evidence of rabies.

It is important to note that bats are a critical part of the ecosystem and should not be targeted or proactively killed.

To prevent exposure to bats in both humans and animals, LCPH recommends being aware that bats’ primary feeding time is at dusk. Avoid letting pets outside an hour before and an hour after dusk. Also, make sure all windows have screens and that pets are vaccinated for rabies.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, although any mammal can get rabies

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