A live bat discovered by preschoolers this week has tested positive for rabies, according to Thurston County’s public health department.
Six children found the bat Tuesday. Their teachers contacted the county, which had the bat tested. Results came back positive for rabies Wednesday afternoon.
It is unclear whether any of the children had contact with the bat. County officials contacted their parents and recommended the children get the rabies vaccine.
The county declined to identify the school but said it was a home-based preschool in a rural area.
This was the eighth bat in 11 years that has tested positive for rabies in Thurston County.
About 6 percent of bats in Washington carry rabies. Last week, the state's Department of Health reported four bats tested positive for rabies in May statewide, the highest number of rabid bats in May in the past 20 years.
While transmission of the virus is extremely rare, the disease is deadly. Rabies can be transmitted through bites, cuts or scratches.
Health officials advise people to avoid contact with bats and other wild animals. Remind children to not touch wild animals and to report any they find to adults.