New reports of West Nile virus infections and bats being found with rabies are a good warning for people to watch out for biting critters.
Today, Southwest District Health Department announced three human cases of West Nile virus, two in Canyon County and one in Payette County, bringing the statewide total to 5. Also today, Central District Health issued a warning for people to be aware of an above-average season of rabid bats, documenting 7 rabid bats in Ada County since June. Last year, Ada County reported 2 rabid bats.
So far this year West Nile virus has been reported in 12 Idaho counties with 5 human cases, which includes four people with West Nile fever and one person with a more serious neuroinvasive infection. People are advised to avoid mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and insect repellent when mosquitoes are active. Mosquitoes can pose a threat until a killing frost occurs.
Thirteen bats from five Idaho counties have tested positive for rabies so far this year, with the state averaging 15 rabid bats annually. Bats are the main source of rabies infection in Idaho, which is fatal if prompt medical attention is not received. Encounters with bats will continue into the Fall, with many migrating bats moving through the area. People are advised to never handle a bat with bare hands, and to make certain pets are up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations. People also are encouraged to bat-proof their homes during the winter months after bats have migrated to reduce future in-home bat encounters.
To read more about the new human infections of West Nile virus, click here for the news release from Southwest District Health. For general information and tips on how to protect yourself, click here.