Bat found by Thurston County preschool kids tests positive for rabies

Generic file of a bat.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A live bat discovered earlier this week by a group of preschool children tested positive for rabies, health officials said Friday.

According to Thurston County Public health and Social Services, the children reported finding the live bat to their teachers. The school then contacted the county health department for assistance.

It’s unclear how many children came into contact with the bat, but health officials are recommending that children get the rabies vaccine.

“Because the children are very young, it is unclear whether any of them had any contact with the bat,” said Public Information Supervisor Meghan Porter. “Parents were made aware that in circumstances such as these, PHSS recommends that the children get the rabies vaccine. The cost, and extent to which this vaccine is covered by insurance, varies.”

Authorities said 6 percent of bats in Washington have rabies. The virus can be transmitted through bites, cuts and scratches.

Some bats teeth and claws can be so small that you might not even know if you were bit or scratched, officials said.

Health officials would not identify which preschool this happened at but said families are being notified.

Public health officials released the following guidance on what to do if you find a bat:

What should you do if you find a bat, dead or alive?

  • If a live bat is discovered in an area where people sleep, contact the Thurston County Health Department for guidance and assistance at (360) 867-2667.
  • Remind children to not touch wild animals and to report it to staff or an adult.
  • If a wild animal (live or dead) is discovered, keep the children and pets away and either remove the animal or remove the children and pets from the immediate area.
    • A dead animal that was not touched by children or staff should be disposed of by placing it in a doubled plastic bag and disposing of it in the garbage.
      • Do not touch the animal with bare hands.
      • Wash hands afterwards.
  • A dead animal that was touched by children or staff should be double bagged and kept for possible examination or testing by the Thurston County Public Health & Social Services Department (360) 867-2667. When in doubt about if the dead animal was touched, keep the body and contact the health department for advice.
  • The best way to protect your pets is to make sure they are current on their rabies vaccinations, even those pets that never go outside (state law requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated).