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DHS news release

June 8, 2006


Program Contact: Gary Stevens, Program Manager, Jackson County Environmental Health, 541-774-8206; Emilio De Bess, DVM Oregon Public Health Division, 971-673-1111

Media Contact: Tom Towslee 971-673-0396, 503-559-0652
En Español


Bat in Ashland tests positive for rabies; precautions advised


A bat found last week in the Ashland area of Jackson County has tested positive for rabies. The bat had bitten one person, but that person had been vaccinated for rabies so there was no risk of infection.


The Department of Human Services Public Health Division said this is the first bat to test positive for rabies in Oregon this year. Last year, Oregon had 23 bats and two foxes test positive. Four of the bats were found in Jackson County.


“Rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals,” said Emilio De Bess, DVM, veterinarian at the Public Health Division. “It is often fatal once symptoms begin, so prevention of bites from infected animals is crucial.”


Finding rabies-positive bats in late spring is somewhat unusual and is prompting public health officials to remind people to protect themselves and their pets.


“People can do two things to protect themselves and their pets,” De Bess said. “First, never handle bats. Second, make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines.”


De Bess said vaccination is especially important for cats, which are bats’ natural predators and most likely to be attracted by a sick bat and aren’t required by law to be vaccinated as dogs are. An unvaccinated cat that comes in contact with a rabid bat may have to be euthanized.


Anyone who finds a bat flopping on the ground or in their house should not pick it up or handle, keep it away from pets, and contact local animal control officials.