OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bat found dead in an Olympia bedroom has tested positive for rabies, the first rabies case in Thurston County this year.
It is the fourth in the state so far in 2022.
Homeowners Suzanne Featherstone and her husband David Hruska received their first round of rabies shots Wednesday morning because they had been sleeping in the room where the bat was found last Friday morning.
Rabies is usually deadly, according to Thurston County Public Health.
“They told us if you have symptoms, it’s too late,” said Featherstone.
She said she thinks the bat got inside through a window left open overnight.
Featherstone said her cat, Meowly, likely killed the bat.
She thinks she and her husband will be OK because they never came in physical contact with the bat thanks to their cat’s actions.
“Who knows what would have happened,” said Featherstone, “Good for the cat, she’s the hero.”
Meowly is up to date on her rabies shots, said Featherstone.
Sammy Berg, senior environmental health specialist for Thurston County, said health officials should be contacted whenever a dead bat is found inside a home, or if a person or pet comes in contact with a bat.
Berg said the county typically gets a case or two of rabies every year, adding that about 6% of all bats that are reported to the county test positive for rabies.
It is not possible to tell if a bat has rabies just from its appearance. Whether a bat is alive or dead, handling an infected bat can potentially transfer rabies.
According to Thurston County Public Health, to prevent exposure to rabies:
Don’t handle bats, alive or dead, or allow anyone in your family to handle one.
Don’t allow your pet to touch or play with a bat and keep your pets vaccinated against rabies, as per Washington law. If you find a bat in a bedroom or with an unattended child, try to safely capture the bat and have it tested.
- To learn more about how to capture a bat indoors from the CDC visit: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/contact/capture.html
- To read the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Living with Wildlife: Bats visit: https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/00605/wdfw00605.pdf
- To learn more about vaccinating your pets, visit the Department of Health at: https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Rabies/PetVaccinationRequirement