Rabid bat found near Alki Beach pier in West Seattle – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

A rabid bat was found on the ground in the Alki Beach area, in the parking lot of the Duwamish Head Condominiums at 1140 Alki Ave SW, across the street from the Alki Trail and Alki Beach Pier.

Anyone who may have had contact with this bat (even if not bitten) may be at risk and should seek immediate medical evaluation or call Public Health at 206-296-4774 to determine whether preventive treatment against rabies is necessary.

Rabies is life-threatening but treatable if caught early and treated before symptoms develop.

The bat was first identified on the evening of September 18, 2022. The Seattle Animal Shelter was notified of the bat on September 19, 2022. An employee of the Seattle Animal Shelter picked up the bat, which was still alive, that same day. The bat was taken to the PAWS animal shelter in Lynnwood, where it died on September 30. Public Health was notified of the bat on October 5. Public Health tested the bat for rabies and it tested positive on October 6.

To date, public health has identified at least four people who may have been exposed to the bat, and all are being evaluated by public health. Public Health is also working to notify Duwamish Head Condominiums residents of the potential risk.

Who is at risk?

Any person or animal that has touched or had contact with a bat or its saliva can be at risk of contracting rabies, which is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. Fortunately, rabies can be prevented if treatment is given before symptoms appear.

“Rabies is treatable if caught before symptoms appear, so identifying anyone who has had contact with the bat as soon as possible is important,” said Elicia Gonzalez, a medical epidemiologist at Public Health – Seattle and King County. “Contact includes touching a bat, biting, scratching, or other bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva.”

Rabies and pets

If your pet may have been exposed to this bat, contact your veterinarian immediately. Dogs, cats, ferrets and horses must have a current rabies vaccine, but will need to be revaccinated if they have had contact with a bat.

More to the point

Rabies is dangerous but treatable if caught early, before symptoms develop:

  • If someone has had contact with a bat, treatment can prevent infection. This treatment should be carried out as soon as possible.
  • Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
  • The virus is found in the saliva of an animal with rabies and is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch. Because rabies is a life-threatening disease, medical advice should be sought immediately if a bat comes into contact with humans or animals.

If you find a bat

If you find a bat in your home, call Public Health at 206-296-4774 to discuss the situation and determine if the bat should be tested for rabies. Public Health tests bats for rabies free of charge under certain circumstances.

  • Live bats must be captured and may need to be tested for rabies if the bat has had direct contact with a person’s bare skin or a pet OR if a person is awakened by a bat in the room where they were sleeping
  • Use a shovel or gloves to place a dead bat into a test box. Don’t throw it away!
  • Open windows and allow bats to leave your home if they have not come into contact with a person or pets. Close doors to other areas of your home and secure pets away from the bat’s location.

For more information on how to safely trap a bat in your home and how to safely avoid bats, visit: www.kingcounty.gov/bats

Originally published on 10/6/22

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