The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) identifies bats as the primary animal that carries rabies in Washington. Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system and it is almost always fatal.

If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat in your home and are not sure if you were exposed, for example – you wake up and find a bat in your bedroom, do not release the bat before calling your healthcare provider and Cowlitz County Health & Human Services (CCHHS) at 360-414-5599 to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide whether or not to test the animal for rabies.

For answer to frequently asked rabies questions, please see our Rabies FAQ.

You can reduce the risk of rabies exposure by following these simple precautions:

  • If you believe you have been bitten by an animal that may have rabies, clean the site with soap and water and contact your healthcare provider and CCHHS at 360-414-5599.
  • Teach your children never to touch or handle bats, even dead ones. Have your children tell an adult if they find a bat at home, at school, or with a pet.
  • Keep bats out of your living space by “bat proofing” your home; including screening windows and doors if left open, closing chimney dampers when not in use, and sealing any gaps in doors.
  • Pets may get rabies if bitten by a rabid animal. Protect them by getting them vaccinated routinely. Dogs, cats, and ferrets are required to be vaccinated in Washington State. Consult your veterinarian for vaccine recommendations.
  • Additional rabies information is available on the DOH website: https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/IllnessandDisease/Rabies