Bat captured in Benton County house tests positive for rabies. 1st in WA this year

A bat captured in a Prosser home this week tested positive for rabies, according to the Benton Franklin Health District.

The district is providing guidance to the person who reported the bat on protective measures they should take.

Due to medical privacy concerns, the health district did not say whether anyone in the house may have come in contact with the bat before it was captured and sent for testing to the Washington state Public Health Laboratories.

The rabies virus has a high death rate in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But those who have been bitten or scratched by a potentially rabid bat may receive preventive treatment before symptoms appear, according to the CDC. That may include human rabies immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccinations.

In Washington state, bats are the only known carriers of the rabies virus, although infected bats can transmit the virus to other mammals.

The rabid bat in Prosser is the only positive case in Washington state so far this year, but eight bats tested positive for rabies in 2022.

Healthy bats do not attack people, but they will bite if touched, according to the health district.

Any bat found outdoors under unusual circumstances — such as acting sick, staying on the ground or during the day — should be left alone, it said. Pets and children should be kept away.

Usually the bat will leave after nightfall.

If a bat is found indoors, officials need to determine if it could have exposed people to rabies.

The last time a rabid bat was found in Benton County before this week was in 2018.

However, a dead bat found in Walla Walla County in 2023 tested positive for rabies. And in 2013 an 11-month-old girl was treated to prevent rabies after being bitten twice by a rabid bat on her grandparents’ Pasco deck.

How to prevent rabies

“Bats are good for our environment and should not be killed unnecessarily,” said JoDee Peyton, the health district supervisor for land, use, waste and water.

The health district recommends treating bats with respect, caution and distance and offers these tips:

Vaccinate pets.

Do not touch or handle wild animals, especially bats.

Leave bats alone, even the dead ones. Have your children tell an adult if they find a bat at home, school or with a pet.

Keep bats out of your living space by bat-proofing your house. Learn how at

Contact the health district at 509-460-4205 if there is a bat indoors or if you have direct contact with a bat so your risk of possible exposure to rabies can be assessed.

If an animal bite or other possible rabies exposure occurs, wash the wound with soap and water, seek medical care and call the health district.