King County woman, puppy exposed to bat with rabies

Jun 14, 2023, 9:56 AM

King County bat...

This horde of bats could contain possible carriers of the rabies virus, 1972. Most of the recent human rabies cases in the United States have been caused by rabies virus that was transmitted through a bat vector. However, it is rare for humans to contract rabies from infected bats. Image courtesy CDC/Arthur E, Kaye. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

An East King County woman and her puppy are being treated after an encounter with a rabid bat outside their home.

Public Health – Seattle & King County said that at the beginning of June, a woman and her unvaccinated puppy contracted rabies from a bat in bushes near her home.

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The bat was caught and tested at a Washington State Public Health Lab, where it was confirmed to have rabies. This is the first lab-confirmed rabid bat in King County in 2023.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease that infects the brain and spinal cord. Rabies virus is found in the saliva of an infected animal and is usually spread by a bite or scratch.

There were a total of five bats that were found to have rabies last year.

Aside from a bite, any bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva, even waking up to a bat in your room, is likely to trigger the need for medical care.

Bats are the only known carrier of rabies in the Pacific Northwest, with an estimated 1% of bats having the viral infection.

In the last 26 years, at least two state residents have died from rabies.

“As the weather warms up, bats come out of hibernation, which means a potential increase in human-bat interactions compared to other times of the year,” Public Health warned.

What to do if you come in contact with a bat?

  • Immediately wash the area of the body that came into contact with the bat thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Call your medical provider. If a person has been exposed to rabies, an injection of immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccinations need to be given as soon as possible to prevent infection and death.
  • Report the interaction to Public Health: 206-296-4774.

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King County woman, puppy exposed to bat with rabies