SEATTLE — It’s the season for bats.
In mid to late summer bats are more active, nesting and feeding their young.
This means there is more interaction between bats and humans and more of a potential to be exposed to bats with rabies.
Bats flying overhead pose no danger, it’s the ones on the ground or in your homes you should worry about.
“Bats normally don’t want to be around people,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer of Public Health-Seattle & King County.
Duchin says animals with rabies act abnormally, so bats with the disease struggle to fly.
In one week, two rabid bats were discovered in public areas in Seattle.
The latest one was found on a Ballard sidewalk at the intersection of NW 73rd Street and 8th Ave NW. It was reported by a pedestrian Tuesday afternoon picked up by animal control Wednesday morning.
And about a week before, another bat discovered flopping around in Green Lake Park also tested positive for rabies.
“We are aware of only one person who came in contact with those two bats,” Duchin said.
But it doesn’t mean there aren’t more people out there, so health experts put out the word immediately for anyone who thinks they might have come into contact with any sick bats.
One woman in Mill Creek who says she came in contact with a rabid bat in her home says she is now facing thousands of dollars in medical bills for vaccines to treat rabies.
“Kind of flipped over and grazed my arm there,” Susan Kraushaar said.
The early symptoms include fever, headache and weakness and they take weeks to develop. By the time humans show symptoms it’s almost always too late to save them.
“Rabies once it develops is a severe infection of the nervous system of the brain and spinal cord,” Duchin said.
That’s why doctors say people who believe they’ve been exposed need to seek vaccines immediately. Vaccines are 100% effective if received in time.
So far, 14 bats have tested positive for rabies across the state, including one in Pierce, three in Snohomish and four in King counties. The state health department says overall these numbers are not any higher than previous years.
So far, 134 people have been treated with rabies medication — not just from bats but from other animals.
The important thing is if you see a bat, don’t touch it.
If you encounter one in your home, call your local health department or a pest control company on the best way to dispose of it.