Marion County Bat Tests Positive for Rabies

Posted on June 18, 2020

Marion County – 06/17/20 5:16 PM

Salem, OR – Public health officials are warning area residents to take precautions after a rabid bat was found in the Stayton area of Marion County, Oregon.

A dog with a current rabies vaccine owned by a resident of the Stayton area was bitten by a bat on June 12, 2020.  The bat was sent to Oregon State University for testing. Results confirmed the bat was positive for rabies. Based on the positive test, Marion County Public Health recommended the dog be quarantined for 45 days and given another rabies vaccine.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, bats are the most common carriers of rabies in this state. About 8-10% of bats tested for rabies are positive every year. So far in 2020, 3 bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon.

Authorities emphasize the main protection for humans is to make sure pets are vaccinated and avoid contact with stray animals and wildlife. Public health officials advise taking extreme precautions before attempting to handle a bat. If it is necessary to pick up a bat, it is best to wear heavy gloves, use a shovel, or both.

The public should not approach bats, wildlife, or other mammals seen exhibiting odd behavior. Sick bats may be seen flopping around on the ground or otherwise acting unusual. If you find a sick bat or other sick wildlife on your property, take children and pets indoors. If you do have an exposure (e.g., scratch or bite) from a bat, immediately clean the wound and seek medical attention. If the bat has been captured, do not crush the bat or throw it away, as intact bats can be tested for rabies, which can help avoid post-exposure rabies shots. If your pet has encountered a bat or been bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 866-968-2600.

In the event of bat contact such as a bite or scratch, an attempt should be made to safely capture the bat for testing for the rabies virus. Efforts should be made to collect the bat without destroying the head and the bat should be kept in a cool place. Immediately seek medical attention and report the incident to Marion County at 503-588-5346.

For more information about rabies, please visit the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division website at: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/RABIES/Pages/rabies.aspx

Information is also available on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at:  https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html

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