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Diseases and conditions
Rabies and Animal Bites

What is Rabies?
Rabies is a severe viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is almost always fatal. All warm-blooded mammals including humans are susceptible to rabies. For more information visit the Washington State Department of Health rabies website.

What should I do if I find a bat in my living space?
Do not touch the bat with bare hands. Close the doors and windows to the room. Wait until the bat lands on the floor or a wall. Wearing leather or other thick gloves, capture the bat in a can or box without touching it. Seal the container and call Clark County Public Health at (360) 397-8182. We will help you determine if any people or pets in your home may have been exposed and can arrange to test the bat for rabies, if needed. What may seem insignificant to you might turn out to be serious enough for testing and treatment. If you know for certain you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, seek medical attention immediately.

How to avoide bat bites:
Bat proof” your home by making sure open windows have screens and that other small entry points, such as cracks, crevices, or holes are sealed. Be suspicious of bat activity during daylight hours - it could indicate illness in the bat.

How to protect your pets from rabies:
Always vaccinate your pets, including dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, and rodents. If your pet finds a dead bat, collect the bat in a plastic bag as you would pick up dog droppings - no bare hand contact. Call Clark County Public Health for current recommendations, and call your veterinarian to be sure your pet's rabies vaccinations are up to date. Animals exposed to possibly rabid bats must be confined for 45 days if vaccinated, and up to 6 months if not vaccinated.  

What should I do if an animal bites me?
Clean the site of any animal bite with soap and water. Contact your health care provider and Clark County Public Health to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide whether or not to test the animal for rabies.

Do I need to report an animal bite?
In Clark County, ALL animal bites are reportable to Animal Control. Please contact the appropriate department / agency for your area to report an animal bite:

  • Clark County (also covers Yacolt): (360) 397-2488
  • Battle Ground Police Dept.: (360) 342-5100
  • La Center Police Dept.: (360) 263-2745
  • Ridgefield Police Dept.: (360) 887-3556
  • Woodland Police Dept.: (360) 577-0191
  • Camas / Washougal Police Dept.: (360) 824-4151


Public Health and Health Care Providers:

Rabies Exposure Assessment Guidelines:
The recommendations available through Washington State Department of Health (DOH) provide guidance on how to evaluate the risk of a rabies exposure and in determining the need to give rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PDF). For additional resources visit the DOH Rabies Resources for Public Health website.

Available testing services for rabies:
Testing of animals suspected of rabies infection is available through the Washington State Public Health lab. Prior approval for testing needs to be granted by Clark County Public Health through the Communicable Disease Unit. To determine if an animal suspected of rabies qualifies for testing, please call (360) 397-8182.

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Spanish contact information

(360) 397-8000 ext. 7205

Russian contact information

(360) 397-8000 ext. 7214