Rabies discovered in two Josephine County animals

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Authorities are urging pet owners take additional precautions after rabies was discovered in two wild animals in Josephine County.
The two mammals, a bat and a fox, were found outside Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center in Merlin and tested positive for rabies Sept. 8, according to the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University.
“People can take two precautions to protect themselves and their pets from bats and rabies,” said Emilio DeBess, public health veterinarian with the Oregon Health Authority. “Never handle bats and make sure your cats and dogs are up to date on their rabies vaccines.”
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that attacks an infected animal’s nervous system. Rabies symptoms in wildlife, particularly foxes and raccoons, include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability or aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling and showing no fear of humans, according to Josephine County Public Health.
“Unfortunately, bats often carry rabies,” DeBess said. “If you find a bat during the daylight hours, it is probably not healthy and should be avoided.”
JCPH advises residents to avoid bats and to not handle them. Those who find a bat are encouraged to contact the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Division at (541) 474-5123. Residents whose pets may have come in contact with a bat are asked to contact their veterinarians.
While bats play a valuable role in nature, contact with humans should be avoided, according to JCPH. Sick bats may be seen flopping around on the ground or otherwise acting unusual.
Residents who find a sick bat or other sick wildlife on their property are asked to take children and pets indoors and to not handle the animal without protection. Use a disposable container with a lid to scoop the animal into the container and dispose of it in the trash. If a bat has had contact with a human or an animal, call JCPH at (541) 474-5325.
Animals typically acquire rabies by eating or coming in contact with a rabid bat. Very few bats in Oregon have rabies and rabies in other wildlife is even rarer.
JCPH recommends residents vaccinated their dogs and cats against rabies; watch wildlife from a distance; do not feed wild animals; keep garbage in secure containers and away from wildlife; feed pets indoors; and screen chimneys and seal openings in attics, basements, porches, sheds and barns that might provide access to bats and other wildlife.