We just got a press advisory from King County saying that "Cottage Lake Park staff found a bat that appears to have been handled in the park men’s restroom. The bat was released by park staff so we do not know if it has rabies. If you had any contact with a bat in a restroom in Cottage Lake Park, contact Public Health or your medical provider immediately."
Here's a little bit more about what we know:
At around 6:30 a.m. on July 13, a bat was found in a public men’s restroom by park staff at Cottage Lake Park in Woodinville. Based on a description of the bat provided by park staff, the bat may have been handled by one or more people. Park staff were able to safely capture the bat, but it has since been released and is therefore not able to be tested for rabies.
The bat may have been in the restroom overnight, so it could have come in contact with people visiting the park on July 12. About 160 people were at the park on the evening of July 12 for the Michelle D’Amour and the Love Dealers concert, which started at 7:00 p.m.
Wait, rabid bats? Shit! Who is at risk?
Any person or animal that touched or had contact with the bat or its saliva could be at risk of getting rabies, which is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. Fortunately, rabies can be prevented if treatment is given before symptoms appear. Anyone who had contact with this bat at Cottage Lake Park should contact Public Health at 206-296-4774 or seek medical evaluation immediately.
“Rabies is treatable if caught before symptoms appear, so identifying anyone who has had contact as soon as possible is important," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. "Contact includes touching a bat, being bitten, scratched, or any other bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva."
What if you had your dog in the restroom with you and it was your dog that had contact with the bat? Is Scooby gonna die?
If your pet might have been exposed to the bat, contact your veterinarian immediately. Dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses should be current on their rabies vaccine but will need to be revaccinated if they had contact with a bat.
What if you have bats in a park near your house? Or in your backyard? Or in your home?
Bats flying overhead, and bats that have not had direct contact with humans or animals, do not pose a risk for transmitting rabies. Healthy bats will avoid people, so be suspicious of a bat you find inside your home or on the ground.
What if you find a bat in your home?
Well, if that's the case, you have some work ahead of you. The county has a three-point plan:
• If you find a bat inside your house, call Public Health at 206-296-4774 to discuss the situation and to determine whether the bat needs to be tested for rabies. Public Health tests bats for rabies free of charge under certain circumstances.
• If the bat is alive, do not let it go! Knock it to the floor with a broom or other object, and cover it with a wastebasket or other container. Scoop it into a box or plastic storage container with a secure lid without touching it or wear heavy leather gloves to pick it up and put it in the box.
•Use a shovel or gloves to put a dead bat in a box for testing. Do not throw it away!
Wait, how are you supposed to catch a bat if it's in your own home? Here, let the county eggsplain:
What if you totally touched a bat last night at Cottage Lake Park but it doesn't resemble the bat that's being handled in the picture at the top of this post?
Um, that's a Getty Image stock photo that has nothing to do with the bat that was handled by someone at the Cottage Lake Park men's room. Call the county or an emergency room immediately!