Health officials urge caution after first rabid bat of the season is found in Bannock County

Below is a press release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Idaho public health officials have confirmed the state’s first rabid racket of the season in Bannock County. A man, his dog, and several cats have likely been exposed to a rabid bat. Public health officials are actively following up on exposures.

“Rabies is a fatal viral disease if not treated with proper medical management early after exposure. An Idaho man died last year after being exposed to a rabid bat,” said Dr. Leslie Tingelsen, state public health veterinarian. contact their health care providers immediately if they think they have been bitten or scratched by a bat to discuss the need for post-exposure shots, which are very effective in preventing rabies.”

“It is very important for people to avoid all bats and other wild animals, especially if they appear sick, behave aggressively or abnormally,” she added.

Tengelsen also strongly encourages owners to contact their vet if they believe their pets, regardless of vaccination status, have been in contact with a bat.

Bats are the only known natural reservoir of rabies virus in Idaho and should always be avoided. While most bats do not carry rabies, an average of 15 rabid bats are discovered in Idaho each year. There is no rabies-free zone in Idaho.

The most common ways people may encounter a bat is when a pet brings one home or a bat enters the home through a small opening or open windows and doors. People may also wake up to find a bat in their room and may not be sure if they have been bitten or scratched in their sleep. If this happens, contact your health care provider.

Bats should be tested for rabies if there is any chance that a person, pet, or livestock has come into contact with it. There is no need to test for a bat that has not interacted with people, pets, or livestock.

To protect yourself and your pets, public health officials recommend these guidelines:

Do not touch the bat with your hands.
If you have come into contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, seek medical advice immediately. Health care providers may discuss the need for a series of life-saving shots.
Contact your local public health district about a bat test for rabies. If you or your pet is determined to be at risk of rabies, the bat can be tested for free through a state public health laboratory.
If you must catch a bat, always wear thick gloves.
If the bat is alive, keep it in an unbreakable container with small ventilation holes. If the bat dies, the bat must be in double bags and sealed in transparent plastic bags. In either case, contact the Public Health District immediately about how to manage bats and how to test for rabies.
Contact your local Idaho Department of Fish and Game about protecting your home from bats. Keep tight bulkheads on windows.
Always vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Even indoor pets can get rabies if bats enter the home. Household pets and other animals can be exposed to the virus by playing with sick bats that are no longer able to fly normally.
Teach your children to avoid bats and let an adult know if they find them.

Please help us improve our rabies education in Idaho by answering, anonymously, 10 online questions at https://app.keysurvey.com/f/41595739/140d/ (in English) or https://app .keysurvey.com/f/41595920/1451/ (Spanish).

For more information on rabies in Idaho, contact your local public health district or visit https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/health-wellness/diseases-conditions/rabies

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