Each year, rabid bats are discovered throughout the state. The first this year was recently found in Bingham County. 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 vaccines. In 2016, 20 bats tested positive for rabies in Idaho, which is higher than our average of 15 per year.
“Bats are the main source of rabies exposures in Idaho,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “We encourage parents to talk to their children about the importance of not touching bats or other wild or feral animals, because doing so can have serious medical consequences.”
Rabies can cause a fatal illness in people, pets, and wild animals. 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, review the following tips:
- Do not touch a bat with your bare hands.
- If you have had an encounter with a bat, discuss this with your healthcare provider right away.
- If you have contact with a bat, save the bat in a container with small airholes (if it is alive) without touching it and contact your local district public health department to arrange bat testing. Whenever possible, the bat should be tested to rule out rabies.
- Always vaccinate your pets for rabies, 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.