In King County, Washington, encounters with wild animals happen frequently. Especially as the summer months are gearing up and people are spending more and more time outside. This is the busiest time of the year for us at Get Bats Out, as more and more people are relying on a bat removal expert to get bats out of their homes as well.
An encounter with any wild animal is often frightening for people and almost always startling. Wild animals will act with aggression to protect themselves. The fear or anxiety this triggers, often plays a part in what you communicate about the situation to friends, family, or your health professionals.
What you communicate to your health professional can also make all the difference as to whether or not you then have to undergo rabies treatment. A recent study conducted by King County health officials has found that nearly half of the individuals treated for rabies from 2011 to 2013 underwent costly and unnecessary post-exposure prophylaxis treatments, or PEP for short.
So what can you do to avoid a situation like this for yourself? Get to know the facts about rabies and when you need to seek treatment.
*At Get Bats Out, we are not health professionals. We are bat removal experts. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not to seek treatment, always consult with your medical professional.
In King County, Washington, bats are the only known carrier of rabies. This is a regional statistic, so if you live elsewhere, consult your local officials. In the eastern region of the US for example, you are much more likely to encounter a rabid racoon. In the southwest, it’s skunks.
Last year in Washington state, 15 (5%), of the 276 bats that were tested for rabies, identified as positive for the disease. In addition, 75 cats, 53 dogs, 12 raccoons and 19 other animals were tested — all with negative results. This is actually good and bad news for Washington state residents.
The good news is, if you are bitten by your dog while breaking up a fight with a skunk, you are very unlikely to have any exposure to rabies if your dog is properly vaccinated. Your dog, in addition to stinking like crazy, will just need to undergo a ten day quarantine to make sure they do not exhibit signs or symptoms.
The bad news being if you do come into contact with a bat, and have concerns about being bitten or scratched, you should definitely seek a medical professionals helps. If you are unable to catch the bat to have it tested for rabies, you will need to undergo the PEP treatment.
According to this Seattle Times article: “PEP includes doses of rabies immune globulin based on the weight of the patient and four rabies vaccine shots delivered at days 3, 7 and 14 after the first vaccination. The series can cost between $4,000 and $10,000 — or more, depending on where and how it’s delivered, experts estimated. In addition, the products can be difficult to get because of supply problems or outright shortages.”
The rabies shot used to only be injected in the stomach. It was incredibly painful for patients. The shot is now injected at the site of the bite. I can’t decide if that sounds better or worse…
Insurance often doesn’t cover the expense of these shots. Which means you are left paying for these out of pocket. If rabies is contracted and you have not undergone PEP treatment, symptoms can develop weeks or months later. Once you start exhibiting symptoms, it’s too late. Rabies is nearly 100% fatal. In the US, we average two to three rabies fatalities yearly. That number is MUCH higher in other areas of the world if you happen to travel abroad.
This is why it is so important you do not share your living space with bats. Yes, they may be confined to an attic or living in the walls, but it’s only a matter of time before one slips through a crack into your living room. Or worse, your bedroom while you are sleeping. Or, worst case scenario, your children’s room. Do they know not to play with a bat?
Your local bat removal expert,