First rabid bats of the season found in Bonneville and Payette counties
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The first rabid bats of the season have been reported in Bonneville and Payette counties.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, one person was exposed to a rabid bat in Payette county. In Bonneville County, a vaccinated dog found a rabid bat.
“Rabies is a fatal viral illness if not treated with proper medical management. People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they may have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Postexposure treatment administered to people after an animal bite or other exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian.
Bats are the only known natural carriers of the rabies virus in Idaho. While most bats do not carry rabies, an average of 15 rabid bats are detected in Idaho each year. No area of Idaho is considered rabies-free, according to Health and Welfare.
“It is extremely important for people to avoid all bats and other wild animals, particularly if they appear sick or are acting aggressively or abnormally,” Tengelsen said.
Bats should be tested for rabies if there is any chance a person, pet or livestock might have been in contact with it. There is no need to test a bat that has had no interaction with people, pets or livestock.
To protect yourself and your pets, public health officials recommend these guidelines:
- Never touch a bat with your bare hands.
- If you have had contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, seek medical advice immediately.
- Call your local public health district about testing a bat for rabies. If it is determined that you or your pet may be at risk of rabies, the bat can be tested for free through the state public health laboratory.
- If you must handle a bat, always wear thick gloves.
- If the bat is alive, save it in a non-breakable container with small air holes.
- If it is dead, the bat should be double-bagged and sealed in clear plastic bags.
- Never put a live bat in a freezer to kill it.
- Contact your local Idaho Department of Fish and Game office about bat-proofing your home. Maintain tight-fitting screens on windows.
- Always vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Even indoor pets could be exposed to rabies if a bat gets into a home. Household pets and other animals can be exposed to the virus by playing with sick bats that can no longer fly normally.
- Teach your children to avoid bats and to let an adult know if they find one.
For more information about rabies in Idaho, call your local public health district or visit https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/health-wellness/diseases-conditions/rabies
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