Cats face quarantine or death after playing with rabid bat

NOTI, Ore. - A family will have to quarantine their cats for 6 months or euthanize the pets after the animals were found playing with a dead bat that later tested positive for rabies, the Lane County Public Health said Tuesday. | Tips to avoid rabies

The family found their cats playing with the dead bat in a barn Oct. 3 in Noti, about 20 miles west of Eugene.

Public Health said Oct. 7 the county had received laboratory confirmation from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University that the bat was infected with rabies.

Because the cats have not been vaccinated against rabies, the family will have to quarantine them for 6 months or euthanize them, the county said.

"All pet owners should make certain their dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies," said Dr. Emilio DeBess, State Public Health Veterinarian. "When our pets are protected from rabies, it provides a buffer zone of immune animals between humans and rabid wild animals, such as bats."

So far this year in Oregon nine animals have tested positive for rabies: 7 bats and 2 foxes - one of each in Lane County. | Rabies cases in Oregon wildlife: 2009-2014

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and mammals that is almost 100 percent fatal once symptoms begin.

The virus is carried in the saliva of an infected animal.

If bitten by a bat the wound should be immediately and thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. | STORY: Rabid bat bites man jamming on guitar

In addition, medical attention should be sought.

If possible, the bat should be captured and the event reported to the Lane County Public Health department.

Bat rabies is the only strain found in Oregon. The foxes and, in past years, coyotes found infected with rabies contracted it from bats, Public Health said.

To protect citizens and pets from rabies:

  • Vaccinate your pets (dogs and cats) against rabies
  • Do not handle bats with bare hands
  • Watch wildlife from a distance. Do not approach or attempt to handle wild animals
  • Do not feed wild animals
  • Keep garbage in secure containers and away from wildlife
  • Feed pets indoors
  • Seal openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds, barns and screen chimneys that might provide access to bats and other wildlife
  • If your pet has contact with a bat, contact your veterinarian
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