Boise, July 27, 2023 – Two bats found in Valley County and Boise County respectively tested positive for rabies, making it the first rabid bat discoveries in those counties this year.
The first bat tested positive July 21 and was found by a vaccinated dog inside a cabin in McCall. None of the people staying in the cabin touched the bat and they found it before sleeping in the cabin. The rabid bat in Boise County tested positive July 25 and was found inside a residence.
In Idaho, bats are the natural reservoir for rabies. Bites are considered the primary way rabies is transmitted. Waking up in a room with a bat, without having a clear idea of the bat’s behavior during the night, can also put people and pets at risk for rabies infection.
“Rabies is a fatal viral illness in people and animals if proper medical management isn’t sought early after an exposure to a rabid animal,” said Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian. “People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they have been bitten or scratched by a bat to discuss the need for post-exposure shots, which are extremely effective at preventing rabies. People can contact their veterinarians to discuss ways to protect animals.”
Without timely medical treatment, rabies infection is 100 percent fatal in people and animals. In Idaho, rabid bats are typically reported between March and November.
These are the second and third bats this year to test positive for rabies in Idaho. The first one was reported in Ada County July 12. Last year, 27 bats tested positive for rabies in our state; one of those was found within Valley County and one in Boise County.
Central District Health would like to remind everyone that it is important that parents talk to their kids about not touching wild animals. Pets should be vaccinated against rabies to protect them in case they interact with a rabid bat or other wild animals.
Because rabies is a life-threatening disease, medical advice must be sought promptly if a bat comes into contact with humans or animals. Medical therapy given to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies.
Take the following precautions for yourself and pets:
- 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. Whenever possible, the bat should be tested to rule out an exposure to rabies;
- Always vaccinate your pets for rabies, including horses. Pets may encounter bats outdoors or in the home; and
- 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 cdc.gov/rabies or CDH’s rabies page here. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare tracks the number of rabid bats in Idaho online.
Contact: Maria Ortega, Communications Manager
Office: 208-327-8639 | Cell 208-871-1712
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