Bat in Clackamas County tests positive for rabies

From: Scott Anderson, Clackamas County Public & Government Affairs, 503-655-8752

Media and Interested Parties

Officials at the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory on June 8 confirmed a bat from Clackamas County tested positive for rabies.

The bat was found at a private residence in Lake Oswego. No one was bitten or directly exposed to the bat.  

In this case, there was a potential exposure to one dog and two cats. Because dogs and cats can be at risk for rabies from bats, they could pose a risk of infecting their owners.

It is required to vaccinate dogs for rabies and, while not required, strongly recommended for cats. Unvaccinated cats will require four months of strict quarantine per public health protocol in case of any unwitnessed exposures to the rabid bat. If quarantining the animal is not possible, euthanasia could be recommended for unvaccinated pets exposed to rabid bats. 

“Because there is a risk of bats transmitting rabies to people and their pets, it is important to avoid touching animals that appear sick and to keep pets – including dogs, cats and ferrets – current on their rabies vaccinations,” said Dr. Sarah Present, Clackamas County Health Officer.

Public health officials recommend the following steps to safeguard community members, families and pets:

•    Vaccinate your pets, including animals that are being fed on the property, like feral cats. However, feeding wild or feral animals is not recommended.
•    Do not handle a live or dead bat. Call a professional wildlife removal service. A bat seen during daylight hours is likely ill and should be avoided.
•    Seal openings to attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns and chimneys.                    
•    Feed pets indoors.
•    Keep garbage in secure containers away from wildlife.
•    If your pet comes into contact with a bat, take it to a veterinarian.

With summer on the horizon, sightings of bats and other interactions with bats are typically more common. If you are scratched or bitten by a bat, immediately wash the affected area with soap and running water for at least five minutes and seek medical attention. If the bat that caused the bite wound is available, it may be considered for rabies testing if the head is still intact. Contact the Clackamas County Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Program at 503-655-8411 to report the bite and discuss bat testing.

For more information, visit the Clackamas County Public Health Division’s website or call 503-655-8411. You can also visit the State of Oregon’s rabies page.   

For more information, members of the media and public may contact Community Relations Specialist Scott Anderson at sanderson@clackamas.us at 503-655-8752.