Somewhere in rural Pierce County on June 4, a man working outside during daylight hours was bitten by a rabid bat.
The bat, state officials would later say, was a big brown bat, a species native to much of North America. Testing would later confirm it as the first rabid bat found in Pierce County in five years, a health official said this week.
The victim did the right things. He sought medical attention promptly, and doctors administered vaccines. A spokeswoman of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department said this week the man is healthy and did not contract rabies.
The animal was sent to a state lab for testing.
How much county residents should worry about the threat of rabid bats at this time is difficult to discern.
Health department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers would not disclose where the attack happened or what the person was doing when he came into contact with the bat. She also would not give the gender of the animal or say whether it was an adult or juvenile.
The agency did caution people to be vigilant.
“Bats are all over the place,” Jeffers said.
They could flutter into a home or cabin, roost in a belfry or turn up in an attic. A state advisory website discusses them as night fliers, but the Pierce County bite happened during the day.
The county health department website urges “anyone who encounters a bat” to “be evaluated by a medical professional” as soon as possible.
The Washington State Public Health Laboratory tests an average of 254 bats a year, and about 7 percent test positive for rabies, a state spokeswoman said.