Health Alert Issued after Rabid Bat Found on Madison Park Beach

Jul 18, 2013

Health officials have issued a warning for anyone who may have been exposed to a sick, rabid bat found on the south side of Seattle's Madison Park Beach on Thursday.

Anyone who has had contact with the bat or its saliva is at risk of developing rabies. While rabies is contracted through a bite, bat bites can be small, indistinguishable and painless, so anyone who has had contact with a bat should consult Public Health.

Initial symptoms are similar to other common illnesses and include a headache, fever, or general weakness or discomfort. The disease later causes more severe symptoms such as anxiety, confusion, partial paralysis or hallucinations. However, health officials don't recommend waiting until symptoms surface to seek medical help if one suspects of having been exposed. The fatality rate of rabies is more than 99 percent, but the viral disease, most commonly found in bats, is treatable if caught early.

"We have not heard of any [exposures], but the purpose of the release is that we can’t be sure," said James Apa, a spokesman for King County Public Health. "We want to make sure that people are aware of the potential risk."

If your children were in Madison Park this past week, make sure to ask whether they've had any encounters with bats. Pets can also contract the disease, so if you suspect an animal to have rabies, contact the health agency's veterinarian at 206-263-8454.

So far this year, there have been 39 potential bat exposures reported to King County Public Health, 16 of which the person exposed was recommended to receive treatment. 

For more information on rabies treatment and the public health hotline, visit the King County Public Health website