SW Bend resident says her cat brought home dead bat that tested positive for rabies

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(Update: Homeowner speaks of cat bringing bat into the house)

“The whole thing was funny … then you have a moment when you are scared”

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Colleen Quinn of Southwest Bend said Thursday she still can’t believe a cat brought a dead, rabid bat into her home.

Deschutes County’s health authorities confirmed that the dead bat tested positive for rabies.

“The whole thing was fun – until the bat actually tested positive for rabies,” said Quinn on Thursday of getting sick. “

One of Quinn’s cats brought the dead animal to her home on Woods Valley Place on July 9th. She says she didn’t even realize it was a bat until she picked it up to throw it away. And Quinn didn’t think of the bat being rabid until a friend encouraged it to get tested.

Rabies is transmitted through the bites of an infected animal, and while vaccination is effective after exposure, prevention is the best plan. Deschutes County Health Services reminded residents to take the necessary precautions to protect people and pets from rabies:

  • Avoid physical contact with bats – healthy, sick, alive, or dead. Keep children and pets away from bats.
  • Do not hand feed or otherwise handle stray animals and wildlife.
  • Vaccinate all dogs, cats, and ferrets against rabies. This protects them and provides an immune barrier between humans and wild animals.

“There are two things people can do to protect themselves and their pets from rabies,” said Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian for the Oregon Health Authority. “Never trade bats and make sure your cats and dogs are aware of their rabies vaccines.”

DeBess added that bats are the No. 1 carriers of rabies in the state, adding that it is now high season.

“We usually get a lot of positive animals in the summer, starting somewhere in March or April,” said DeBess.

To keep your pet safe, make sure their rabies vaccinations are up to date. Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies when they are three to six months old. A booster vaccination is required one year after the initial vaccination, and every three years thereafter. Oregon law requires dogs and cats or ferrets who are not up-to-date with vaccinations and are exposed to rabies to be euthanized or placed in strict quarantine for four months.

Quinn said her cats are currently quarantined at home since handling the bat.

Bats play an important role in the ecosystem, especially in controlling insects, mostly at night. “If you find a bat in daylight it is most likely not healthy and should be avoided,” added DeBess. Rabies bats usually bite for self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them.

Rabies is a contagious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always caused by exposure to a rabid animal. Exposure is usually from a bite, but can also come from scratching and saliva contact with broken skin. It is almost always fatal when symptoms start.

If a person or pet is bitten by a bat, immediately report the bite to the Deschutes County Environmental Health Agency at (541) 317-3114 and report the bite to your doctor.

More information about rabies
Oregon Health Authority: http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/DiseasesAZ/Pages/disease.aspx?did=41
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/

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