Family cat brings rabid bat into South Eugene home

Family cat brings rabid bat into South Eugene home

EUGENE, Ore. - A dead bat brought into a South Eugene home by a family's cat tested positive for rabies, the Lane County Public Health department said Thursday.

Only one of the family's two cats had a rabies vaccination, health officials said.

The unvaccinatedcat will have to be quarantined for 6 months or euthanized, health officials said.

The vaccinated cat will have to re-vaccinated and confined for 45 days.

"All pet owners should make certain their dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies," said Dr. Emilio DeBess, State Public Health Veterinarian. "When our pets are protected from rabies, it provides a buffer zone of immune animals between humans and rabid wild animals, such as bats."

So far this year in Oregon, 11 bats and one fox have tested positive for rabies.

Lane County residents and veterinarians should be aware that other animals could be exposed to the rabies virus and should, therefore, be alert to potential signs of the disease, health officials said.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and mammals.  It is almost 100 percent fatal once symptoms begin. 

The virus is carried in the saliva of an infected animal; transmission can occur when that animal bites, or in rare instances, scratches another animal or person.

If bitten by a bat the wound should be immediately and thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. In addition, medical attention should be sought. 

"If you live in a wooded area and let your dogs or cat roam free, they have contact with wild animals. They come back and we don't necesarily know what that contact was, so by vaccinating your animals, you create a buffer between yourself and the wild animals," said public information officer for Lane County Health and Human Services Jason Davis.

Davis suggests that if you have animals, make sure you seal any entrances where bats can get into your home. "If you have exterior buildings like a barn or shed, make sure they're sealed as well," said Davis.

Finally, if possible, the bat should be captured and the event reported to the Lane County Public Health department.