If you see a bat in Multnomah County, use caution—especially if it is during the day or around your pets.

As if the murder hornets and the worldwide pandemic were not stomach-turning enough, now comes word from Multnomah County that a—brace yourself—rabid bat has surfaced in Northeast Portland. 

For those keeping track at home: This is the first time that an animal has tested positive for rabies in Multnomah County since September of 2014.  

And before anyone decides that we need a Memorial Celebrity Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure, you should know that there is no record of a human case of rabies in the county. (Though if you do happen to encounter a bat when you are out and about, we suggest avoiding it sharpish.) 

This is, however, a good time to make sure that your pets are up to date with their rabies vaccines, says Lisa Ferguson, a communicable disease specialist with the county. “If you think you may have been bitten, scratched or are concerned about contact with a bat, report it because you may need just-in-time rabies vaccines,” she adds. 

The bat in questions was discovered in Northeast Portland after a dog was found playing with it, the county said. Fortunately, the dog’s rabies vaccines were up to date, but the animal nevertheless got a rabies booster and will quarantine at home for 45 days, to be safe. 

Should you happen on a dead bat, the county’s advice is to use a disposable container with a lid to scoop the animal up and then put it into the trash. But if you think the bat might have had contact with a pet or a person, call the county’s animal services division or your veterinarian, because the bat should be tested for rabies. It is unusual to see a bat during the daytime—per your 6th grade biology class, they are, of course, nocturnal—so if you do see one during daylight hours, that’s an indication that something is wrong. Rabid bats are more likely to be sedentary, or flopping on the ground, or other non-typical batlike behavior. 

(Lest you think bats are all bad, Roger Rodriguez, a bat research coordinator with the Northwestern Bat Hub at Oregon State University begs to differ. He notes that bats eat mosquitoes, and are a key natural pest controller for local farms.) 

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