Health officials warning Lewis County residents after rabid bat discovered

LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. — A confirmed case of rabies in a bat has Lewis County officials urging residents to be careful.

The bat was found near Centralia by a resident and his dog on July 12 when walking along his property. The county says the two were the only ones that contacted the bat and that it’s been disposed of.

Health experts say the rabies virus is found in an infected animal’s saliva and can easily spread to humans or pets through bites and scratches.

“The risk of encountering a rabid bat is extremely low here,” Lewis County Health Officer Rachel Wood explained. “However, because the risk does exist, people should be aware of how rabies is carried and spread.”

Lewis County issued tips to help residents prevent rabies exposure:

Do not handle wild animals, especially bats.

– Teach your children never to touch or handle bats, even dead ones. Have your children tell an adult if they find a bat at home, at school, or with a pet.

– If you see a wild animal leave it alone.

– Do not keep wild animals as pets.

– Keep bats out of your living space. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers guidance at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/living/species-facts/bats.

– Pets can get rabies if bitten by a rabid animal. Protect them and yourself by getting them vaccinated routinely.

They also say that if you believe you have been bitten by an animal that may have rabies, clean the site with soap and water and contact your healthcare provider or LCPHSS at 360-740-1222.

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