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Bats in Your Home

What should I do if I find a bat in my living space?

Close the doors and windows to the room - do not let the bat escape. Any actual or potential bat-human contact should be reported to Island County Public Health. 

How to capture a bat safely?

Do not touch the bat. The bat should be safely captured without damaging its skull (the intact brain is needed for testing). Wait until the bat lands on the floor or a wall. Use heavy gloves, a towel or tongs and put the bat in an airtight, leak-proof, unbreakable container. If the bat cannot be safely captured without causing damage, you should contact a licensed pest-control operator for assistance. 

What to do with the bat after capture?

Call Island County Public Health at (360) 679-7350. If it is determined that there is probable exposure, we may request that you euthanize the bat and deliver it to the Public Health Department front desk. Island County Public Health will send the bat in for testing to the Washington State Laboratory.

How to euthanize the bat?

Put the bat into an airtight container, soak two cotton balls with lighter fluid, and place the two cotton balls in the container with the bat. Euthan​ization​ process varies depending on bat weight and air space. Please use caution and avoid saturating the bat with the lighter fluid.

When are bats tested?

Bats are only tested when there is probable exposure to rabies. As per Center for Disease Control guidelines, testing a bat for rabies is appropriate even in the absence of a demonstrable bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure in situations wherein such an exposure cannot be positively ruled out. Testing is appropriate when a bat is in the room with a sleeping individual, or when an adult witnesses a bat in the room with a previously unattended child, mentally challenged person, or intoxicated individual. Most bat encounters will not wake someone, and bat teeth may not leave marks.

What to do after testing?

Island County Public Health will notify all exposed individuals of the testing results. If the bat tests positive for rabies, and there has been probable human exposure, then post-exposure anti-rabies treatment is recommended and can be provided upon orders from your physician. This treatment is a series of five or more shots over 14 days and can be costly. Keep in mind that safely capturing and testing the bat can prevent the need for treatment of individuals having had probable exposure if the bat is determined upon testing not to have had rabies.