Another rabid bat attacks in Lane County

Another rabid bat attacks in Lane County
Posted on 10/07/2015

Lynne Terry | The Oregonian/OregonLive By Lynne Terry | The Oregonian/OregonLive

 

October 07, 2015 at 2:56 PM, updated October 07, 2015 at 3:26 PM

 

Two people have been attacked by rabid bats within the past month in Lane County.

 

The latest case involved a woman who works at Lane Community College in Eugene. Nearly two weeks ago, she was strolling to her car to go home for the day when a bat swirled over her. She tried to swat it away and thought she had but when she got to her car she discovered that it was clinging to her blouse near her belly, said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County health officer.

 

Earlier in September, a man in the southern part of Lane County was woken up in the middle of the night by a rabid bat in his bed. The bat bit him as he tried to hit it.

 

The man has been treated and the woman is undergoing the four vaccine shots to prevent infection, Luedtke said. Once symptoms set in, which can take two months, rabies is almost always fatal.

 

"There is no microorganism on Earth that is as fatal as the rabies virus," Luedtke said.

 

Only five people have ever lived among 50,000 cases worldwide every year, he said.

 

Rabies is endemic in the bat population in western Oregon. Since July, 16 animals have tested positive for the virus in Benton, Clackamas, Deschutes, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Marion, Wasco and Washington counties, said Emilio DeBess, the state public health veterinarian. Only one was a fox in Lane County; the rest were bats.

 

"We've had a lot more positives this year than we've had before," DeBess said. But it could be that the state has tested more than 200 bats this year compared to nearly 150 in 2014.

 

"The more you test, the more you'll find," DeBess said.

 

He suspects the warm weather is drawing them out of their nests, often under roofs or in barns.

 

"We've seen a number of bats that are disoriented because it's too hot," DeBess said.

 

Usually, people are not attacked. But the public needs to be aware of a potential threat both to themselves and other animals. Stay away from bats, especially ones that act erratically or are out during the day, health officials say.

 

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and mammals. The virus, carried in saliva of the infected animal, is transmitted by a bite or scratch.

 

Victims should thoroughly clean wounds with hot, soapy water to try to kill the virus. Also be aware that you can be bitten but not realize it because bat teeth are so small. Anyone who's had contact with a bat should seek medical help and alert public health officials.

 

To protect yourself and your pets:

 

Have your animals vaccinated

 

Do not handle bats with bare hands

 

Do not feed wild animals

 

Keep garbage in secure containers away from wildlife

 

Feed pets indoors

 

Seal openings to attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns and chimneys

 

If your pet comes into contact with a bat, take it to a veterinarian.

 

Bats feed on insects. When the weather cools, they hibernate or travel to warmer areas. People should be on the lookout for the next month, Luedtke said.

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