A person bitten by a rabid bat on the UW campus; King County health officials issue warnings

People and animals on the bat's path were probably also exposed, according to health officials.

  Jessica Lee


Seattle Times Journalist

King County officials issued a public health warning on Tuesday night after a bat that tested positive for the rabies virus attacked to someone on the campus of the University of Washington, and now they fear that others were exposed to the life-threatening disease.

Someone reported the bat found behind the Husky Stadium near Union Bay water around 2 pm Saturday, according to the department of public health – Seattle and King County. The bat had acted aggressively and bit at least one person – though it is not clear where and when – clung to that person's fingers.

The victim and a group of people from the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity first tried to remove the bat on their own, and then the victim sought professional medical attention, says a department press release.

No further details about that person were immediately known, including age, gender or condition until Tuesday.

It was also unclear how or by what route the infectious bat traveled more than a mile between Union Bay and the fraternity, located on the block 4500 from 19th Avenue Northwest.

the animals in the bat's path were probably also exposed, the statement said.

"Any person or animal that touched or was in contact with the bat or its saliva could be at risk of contracting rabies, which is almost always fatal once the toms start," the statement said. "Fortunately, rabies can be prevented if the treatment is given before the symptoms appear."

The disease is usually spread through animal bites and scratches. Health officials ask anyone who has had contact with the bat near the stadium or the fraternity to seek medical attention immediately or contact your veterinarian if your pet was at risk.

State public health officials notified the county agency of the positive bat test for rabies on Monday.

These results mean that a total of two bats have tested positive for the disease throughout Washington so far this year, according to the counts of the state Department of Health. In 2017, the agency registered nearly two dozen bats with rabies throughout the state, almost the same total as the previous year.

Most bats do not have the disease, which affects the central nervous system of a person or animal.

According to the department, people bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid animal should first wash their wound with soap and water. Then, you should call a health service provider or the department's disease response division at 206-296-4774 for the next steps.

And because some bite marks are small or shallow, which means they are difficult to detect, officials recommend anyone who was sleeping or intoxicated near a bat to communicate with a health professional regardless of the circumstances. In addition, unattended children or people with mental or physical disabilities should always seek medical help.

Washington State law requires rabies vaccines for dogs, cats, and ferrets.


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