Bat in Boise tests positive for rabies

A bat found in Boise has tested positive for rabies, Central District Health Department reported this afternoon. The dead bat was recently discovered in a residential area in southeast Boise, and is the first one of the year in Idaho to test positive for rabies.

Rabid bats are discovered statewide each year. Public health officials want to remind people to take precautions around bats and make sure that their dogs, cats and horses are up to date on their rabies vaccine. Last year in Idaho, 11 bats and one skunk tested positive for rabies, with two of the bat reports occurring in Ada County, and two in neighboring Canyon County.

“Bats are the main source of rabies exposures in Idaho, and every year we receive reports of rabid bats,” says Sarah Correll, Central District Health Department (CDHD) epidemiologist. “We encourage parents to talk to their children about the importance of not touching bats or other wild animals.”

One warning sign that a bat may carry rabies is daytime activity, which is unusual for healthy bats.

Rabies can cause a fatal illness. People should call their health care provider immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy given to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies.

To protect yourself and your pets, CDHD offers the following tips:

  • Do not touch a bat with your bare hands.
  • If you have had an encounter with a bat, seek medical attention.
  • If you come in contact with a bat, save the bat in a container without touching it and contact your district health department to arrange testing for rabies. You can wear leather gloves if you must pick it up with your hands. Whenever possible, the bat should be tested to rule out an exposure to rabies.
  • Always vaccinate your pets, including horses. Pets may encounter bats outdoors or in the home.
  • Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.

For more information on bats and rabies, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies.

To track the number of rabid bats in Idaho, visit: http://www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Health/DiseasesConditions/RabiesInformation/tabid/176/Default.aspx

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