By The Chronicle (Centralia)
Since the beginning of August, 12 bats found in homes and parks across Washington have tested positive for rabies. That batch of positive tests marks the largest set of positive returns in more than a decade.
Health officials test bats each year, typically during summer months. This year, 21 rabid bats have been found so far. Health officials are warning the public to remain vigilant since rabies can be spread from bats to humans or pets.
The Washington Department of Health noted that there were more bats submitted for testing this year than in years past. The department did not offer a theory for the increased reporting. However, the press release noted that, “What is clear is that many members of the public are doing the right thing: alerting local health officials if a family member or pet encounters a bat.”
All mammals are susceptible to becoming infected with the rabies virus, but bats are the primary animal known to carry rabies in Washington. The release from the Washington Department of Health noted that, “It is important that people continue to take appropriate precautions if a bat is found — dead or alive. If you suspect that a family member or pet has had contact with a bat, do not touch the bat and call your local health department for next steps.”
In 2016, a total of 20 rabid bats were confirmed across the state. In 2015, just nine rabid bats were identified.
Each year, Washington State Public Health Laboratories test between 200 and 300 bats. Between 3 and 10 percent of all bats tested typically turn up positive for rabies.
Additional information, including recommended precautions, can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/yb9hkmlb.