Health department warns about rabid bat found in city park

SEATTLE -- The Public Health Department has issued an alert about a rabid bat that was discovered July 15 at the Madison Park public beach at East Madison Street and East Howe Street. The department warns that anyone who came in contact with the bad could potentially contract rabies and should contact the Public Health Department immediately.

The bat was found by a beach-goer in the shade of a tree at the south end of the beach.

Rabies is typically fatal once symptoms are present and once symptoms develop, rabies cannot be treated. Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system. The virus is found in the saliva of an animal with rabies and is usually transmitted by a bite or scratch. In Washington state, most cases of rabies in animals occur in bats, but most bats do not carry rabies and most of the bats tested for rabies in Washington are not infected.

Because rabies is a life-threatening disease, medical advice must be sought promptly if a bat comes into contact with humans or animals. Public Health will provide anyone who contacts them with information on how to be treated.

Parents who were in the park with young children should ask their children if they had any contact with a bat at the park. Pets also could have been exposed. Dogs, cats and ferrets should be currently vaccinated against rabies, but if they were exposed they should be revaccinated immediately and kept under the owner's control and observation for 45 days. Any illness or unusual behavior during this time should be reported to a veterinarian immediately.

You can call the Public Health hotline at 206-296-4949 (press option #2, then option #5).

More information about bats and rabies is available here.