First rabid bat of the season found in Bannock County

Health officials are urging caution around bats after the first rabid bat of the season was...
Health officials are urging caution around bats after the first rabid bat of the season was found in Bannock County, Idaho(WCJB)
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 12:40 PM MDT
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BANNOCK COUNTY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Public health officials in Idaho are confirming the first rabid bat of the season in Bannock County.

They say a man, his dog, and numerous cats were all potentially exposed to the bat, and public health officials are following up on exposures.

“Rabies is a fatal viral illness 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 Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian. “People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they may have been bitten or scratched by a bat to discuss the need for post-exposure shots, which are extremely effective in preventing rabies.”

“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,” she added.

Tengelsen also added any owner who believes their pets were exposed should contact their veterinarian regardless of their vaccination status.

Health officials urge the following steps to prevent potential exposure:

  • 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. Healthcare providers may discuss the need for a life-saving series of shots.
  • 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 the bat is dead, the bat should be double-bagged and sealed in clear plastic bags. In either case, contact the public health district right away about how to manage the bat and how to get it tested for rabies.
  • 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.

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