CORVALLIS, Ore. - A bat found flying inside the home of a Medford resident tested positive for rabies Friday afternoon, according to Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory in Corvallis.
This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in 2012, state health officials said.
Last year, 11 bats, five foxes and one coyote tested positive for rabies in Oregon.
Each year, about 10 percent of bats tested are found to have rabies.
People can take two precautions to protect themselves and their pets from bats and rabies, said Dr. Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian in the Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division.
“Never handle bats; and make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines,” he said. “Unfortunately, bats carry rabies. If you find a bat during the daylight hours, it is probably not healthy and should be avoided.”
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that attacks an infected animal’s nervous system, the health authority said.
The rabies strain found in the foxes is from bats.
Rabies symptoms in wildlife, particularly foxes, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability or aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling of saliva, and showing no fear of humans.
Health officials urge the public to report this type of behavior to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) hotline at 1-866-968-2600.
People should also stay away from bats and not handle them.
Typically, animals acquire rabies by eating or coming in contact with a rabid bat. Very few bats in Oregon have rabies, and rabies in other wildlife is even rarer, the health authority said.
However, if you know your pet has encountered a bat or been bitten by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian immediately.