Yakima Health District

MOXEE — A sick bat found near Moxee Elementary School last week tested positive for rabies, the first to be found in the county in at least 11 years.

Yakima Health District officials sent the bat’s remains to a state lab, where it was found to have the disease, according to a health district news release.

The bat was found near the school on Aug. 13. The health district asks anyone who may have touched the bat, was bitten by a bat or had a bat’s saliva come in contact with an open wound, eyes, nose or mouth, to call the district immediately at 509-249-6541 to get information about treatment.

Rabies treatment consists of a series of five injections administered over the course of two weeks, the release said. Health officials said the treatment must be given before someone develops rabies symptoms to be effective.

The bat was the fifth to test positive for rabies in the state so far this year, according to the state Department of Health. The other cases were in Lewis, Whatcom, Thurston and Snohomish counties.

State health departments records, which go back to 2008, show no other bats testing positive for rabies in Yakima County. In 2018, 40 bats tested positive for rabies statewide, according to the state health department.

Washington is home to 15 species of bats, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Bats will eat their own weight in insects each night, and can be found throughout the state. Health officials say bats are the most common animal in the state to carry the rabies virus, representing nearly three-quarters of the animals found to have the disease.

Health officials say people should keep their pets’ rabies vaccinations current, and to not touch a bat with bare hands.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist/