For the second time this summer, a rabid bat was found at Madison Park in Seattle (located at E Madison St and E Howe St). The bat was discovered by a park visitor as it clung to the bottom of a tree on the playground on Saturday, August 17th. Immediately after receiving notification from the visitor, the grounds crew taped off the area and called animal control.
Anyone who touched or had contact with the bat or its saliva could be at risk to develop rabies, which is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. Rabies can be prevented if treatment is given before symptoms appear.
If you, your child or your pet had any contact—touched, were bitten, or scratched—by a bat at Madison Park Playground on August 17th , please call Public Health immediately at 206-296-4774 to get information about preventive treatment. If your children were at the playground on that day, ask them if they had any contact with a bat.
“This bat was from a different, more solitary species than the rabid bat found at Madison Park beach earlier this summer,” said Dr. Meagan Kay, veterinarian and medical epidemiologist for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “This tells us that the two cases were an unusual coincidence, not suggestive of an outbreak among local bat colonies.”
Rabies and pets
Pets could have been exposed as well. Dogs, cats and ferrets should be currently vaccinated against rabies. If your pet may have been exposed, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your pet will need to be revaccinated.
More about rabies
Rabies is dangerous, but treatable if caught early:
- If someone has had contact with the bat, treatment can prevent infection. This treatment should be given as soon as possible.
- Once symptoms develop, rabies cannot be treated and leads to death in virtually all cases.
Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. The virus is found in the saliva of an animal with rabies and is usually transmitted by a bite or scratch. In Washington state, most cases of rabies in animals occur in bats. Most bats, however, do not carry rabies, and most of the bats tested for rabies in Washington are not infected.
Because rabies is a life threatening disease, medical advice must be sought promptly if a bat comes into contact with humans or animals.
More about bats
Bats flying overhead, and bats that have not had direct contact with humans or animals, do not pose a risk for transmitting rabies. Healthy bats will avoid people, so be suspicious of a bat you find inside your home or on the ground.
If you find a bat:
- If you find a bat inside the house, call Public Health at 206-296-4774 to discuss the situation and to arrange for testing the bat for rabies. Public Health tests bats for rabies free of charge.
- If the bat is alive, do not let it go! Knock it to the floor with a broom or other object, and cover it with a wastebasket or other container. Scoop it into a secure box with a lid without touching it or wear heavy leather gloves to pick it up and put it in a box.
- Use a shovel or gloves to put a dead bat in a box for testing. Do not throw it away!