So far in 2017 two bats have tested positive for rabies within the Seattle city limits. One was found in Green Lake Park while the other was located in Ballard. Anyone having direct contact with bats is at risk for contracting the rabies virus. These two bats are part of a marked increase in the percentage of rabies positive bats in our county. This number is not so high as to be alarming, but it is high enough to take note and consider the possible impact to you and your family.
While humans can be told to avoid direct contact with bats, this is not so easy with our pets. With a large number of dogs walking with their owners every day and cats roaming the neighborhoods, sick or dying bats become an attractant that few animals can resist. These pets are at risk for contracting the disease which becomes a risk for their human family members.
Not every bat has rabies, but because of the seriousness of the disease, it is safest to treat any bat you or your pets come in contact with as being infected. Should you or your pet interact with a bat, the King County Department of health has created a page with instructions on how best to deal with the situation: www.kingcounty.gov/bats
Animals in early stages of rabies infection may show no symptoms but are still contagious to both humans and other animals. In most cases, pets that become infected are not diagnosed until after they have begun to show symptoms. Once symptoms of rabies develop there is no treatment.
Those who have already chosen to vaccinate their pets for rabies can take comfort in the fact that their pets are protected. For those who find their pets are due or overdue for a rabies vaccine, it is advisable to seek vaccination as soon as possible. Making sure your pet is vaccinated against rabies is the number one way to help ensure the safety and health of you, your family, and your community.
Joyeeta De, DVM