GASTON, Ore. - A woman in Gaston is finishing up her medication after she was recently bitten by a bat that had rabies.
The woman said she came across the bat in her yard when she spotted her dog with some kind of animal. She said she initially thought it was a bird.
But when she picked up the animal, "it just grabbed onto my finger through the glove ... and got me. It was hanging on," she said.
She then put the bat in a bucket.
She agreed to speak with KATU about her experience on the condition we didn't use her name.
She said the bat was acting strangely, was not flying around and seemed confused.
A couple of days later, she took the bat to Washington County Environmental Health authorities and had it tested. It turned out to have rabies.
"I kind of went through a couple minutes of shock, and then just went 'I've gotta get treated right now,'" she said. She will complete taking her medication this week.
Multnomah County Public Health officer Dr. Gary Oxman said about 10 percent of bats tested in Oregon have rabies.
"Rabies is an infection of brain tissue," Oxman said. He advises anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the rabies to get tested immediately.
"If you get exposed to the virus, what's necessary is for you to get preventative treatment before you get sick," Oxman said. "Once you start getting sick, you're beyond the point of no return."
Rabies can be deadly but is most harmful to animals. It takes weeks to incubate in people. Oxman said it rarely results in death if it is treated immediately.
It's the second recent incident in Oregon involving a rabid bat biting a human.
On May 18, a Portland woman was bitten after intervening in a scuffle between a bat and a stray cat in the Boise neighborhood. She was bitten when she tried to transfer the bat into a container at her home.
The Gaston woman said her dog had already been vaccinated for rabies and is under quarantine at her home. "Just to find out there is rabies in the area was a big shock to me," she said.
"I'm just glad it didn't happen to some child, you know?" she said. "It's just kind of a horrifying scenario. I'd really like to see people keep their family safe. We can do that by being aware, being educated and keeping our animals vaccinated."
Animal experts advise caution when handling a bat. They said to use thick leather gloves or better yet, use tongs to avoid directly handling the animal.
After the incident in May, health department officials stressed that rabies is much more dangerous to pets than humans. They also highlighted the importance of vaccinating pets against rabies and other diseases.