SISTERS, OR -- A bat found in Sisters has tested positive for Rabies, renewing calls from vets and public health officials to make sure pets are vaccinated. A dog captured the bat in its mouth, and was discovered by the dog's owner.
State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Emilio DeBess tells KBND the scenario is the most common way humans come in contact with rabid bats, and serves as a reminder for people to stay safe. "You should always take precautions with dead or dying bats because of all the bats we test in Oregon, about 10% have rabies. It doesn’t say anything about nature; it’s just the ones that we test. So, we’re always concerned about exposing people and animals to rabies."
Dr. DeBess says, "For families, we usually remind people not to handle bats with their bare hands. Rather use coffee cans or other cans, without physically touching the animal. That would completely eliminate the exposure to Rabies."
He encourages everyone to watch for wildlife that may exhibit symptoms of Rabies. "With bats, for example, they tend to have difficulty flying, they’re not as fast as they used to be, they appear in the daylight when they’re usually active at night; so there’s a significant change in behavior. Some people have seen bats hissing at them or going around at times or in areas they’re usually not found." Dr. DeBess says about 10% of the bats tested in Oregon have rabies.
Dr. DeBess says the best way for people to stay safe, is to make sure pets are up-to-date on vaccinations. The Sisters dog is now under a 45-day quarantine. However, without proper vaccinations, Oregon law dictates a pet exposed to rabies be euthanized or placed under a strict 6-month quarantine.
This is the fourth bat to test positive in Oregon, so far this year. The last rabid bat in Deschutes County was in October 2014.