Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus. It is usually spread to humans from infected animals. If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, or if you find a dead bat in a bedroom, you must call our office immediately at 360-778-6000. One of our staff will talk to you and make recommendations to protect you from rabies.
Bats are the main carriers of rabies in Washington State, but they can pass it on to other animals or people through their saliva or brain tissue. Between 3% - 5% of bats tested for rabies in Washington State test positive.
Rabies is usually spread to humans by animal bites. It can also be spread if saliva from a rabid animal comes into contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth, or through a break in your skin, like a cut or scratch. Rabies does not survive well outside the body, and once saliva dries, the virus dies.
Bats are more active in warmer weather. They might find their way into your garage, home, barn, or other areas around your home through open doors or windows. You can make it less likely they’ll take up residence around your home by:
If you think bats are living in your house or on your property, contact a professional to have them removed.
Don’t handle wild animals. Teach children never to touch or handle bats, even dead ones, and to tell an adult if they find a bat.
Dogs, cats, and ferrets are required to be vaccinated against rabies. When your pets are vaccinated, both you and your pet are better protected against rabies.
Bats have very tiny teeth, and that can make it hard to know if you were bitten by a bat. Someone may have been exposed to the rabies virus if:
You aren’t at risk for rabies if:
Only bats that have been found indoors or are a concern for rabies exposure risk should be tested for rabies.
Call us at 360-778-6000 if you think you or someone in your home may have been exposed to rabies through contact with a bat or if you were bitten by a wild animal. We may need to test the bat. The Whatcom Humane Society can help with capture of a bat in your home. We will also help you determine what other steps to take.
If you’ve been bitten, clean the site with soap and water. Call us at 360-778-6000 and also contact your health care provider.
Rabies is 100% preventable when you get medical care right away. People who are exposed to rabies get post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is a series of shots, over a two-week period. The shots contain a rabies vaccine that will prevent you from getting rabies disease. Your healthcare provider will help you decide if you should start PEP.