Animal Bites & Concerns

  1. Rabies & Bats
  2. Reporting Animal Bites
  3. Disease Prevention

Rabies in Snohomish County

In Washington, bats are the only animal known to carry rabies. Most bats are harmless, but approximately 1% of bats in the wild are infected with the rabies virus. The possibility of rabies in other domestic or wild animals is very unlikely in Washington, though it's important to vaccinate your pets. In other parts of the country, raccoons, skunks, and foxes are also known to have rabies. In developing countries worldwide, dogs are the principal animal in which rabies is found.

Rabies is almost always deadly once the virus attacks your body, but you can receive preventive treatment if you've been bitten or scratched by a bat or other potentially rabid animal.

While we have had no cases of rabies in Snohomish County, each year we talk to and ensure treatment for a number of people exposed to rabies in Snohomish County or elsewhere.

Bat Updates

Due to an increase in calls related to bats, we've updated our reporting information.

If you find a bat in your home, please call the Snohomish County Health Department at 425-339-3503 only if there has been a human or animal (pet) exposure. The Snohomish County Health Department's role is to determine if there has been a true rabies exposure and if rabies testing is needed.

  • The following examples count as an exposure: 
    • A bite or scratch
    • Finding a bat in the room when waking up
    • Finding a bat in the room with an unattended small child, an immobile, intoxicated or mentally incapacitated person, or a pet
  • If you believe your pet has been exposed, please contact your veterinarian for further assessment. If there has been no human or animal exposure, contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife if you need help disposing of the bat unless you can do so safely. If you dispose of the bat on your own, please make sure to wear thick leather gloves to avoid any exposures.
  • If you have been exposed to a bite or scratch, please also contact your primary care provider for medical attention. Your healthcare provider should contact the Snohomish County Health Department only if there is any suspicion for rabies exposure. Keep your pets updated on their rabies vaccines to avoid transmission of the rabies virus from their exposure to wildlife.
  • Do not release or trash the bat if someone has come into contact with the bat.

Public Health Seattle King County has a video demonstrating safe ways to capture a bat in your home.