Adams County Bat Tests Positive for Rabies; Health Officials Urge Caution Around All Bats

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Adams County Bat Tests Positive for Rabies; Health Officials Urge Caution Around All Bats

 CALDWELL, IDAHO – A bat found in Adams County has tested positive for rabies, making it the first rabid bat discovered in the Southwest District Health (SWDH) jurisdiction this season. The bat was found inside of an Adams County home where it had contact with a cat. The cat has been vaccinated against rabies in the past and boostered following the encounter. Those who were staying at the home are being assessed for potential exposure.

Without timely medical intervention, rabies infection is virtually 100 percent fatal in people and animals. Medical therapy given to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies. People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they may have been bitten or scratched by a bat. In Idaho, rabid bats are typically reported between March and November. Last year, 14 bats tested positive for rabies statewide.

Bites are considered the primary way rabies is transmitted, but 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. Whenever possible, a bat found in an area (inside or outside) where people or pets may have been exposed should be captured and submitted for rabies testing. Bats are the only natural hosts for the virus in Idaho and should always be avoided. No area of the state is considered rabies-free.

The most common ways people may encounter a bat is when a pet finds a bat in the yard, brings one into the home or a bat enters a home through a small opening or open windows or doors. People may also wake up to find a bat in the room and cannot be sure they were bitten or not while they slept. Whenever possible, a bat found in an area (inside or outside) where people or pets may have been exposed should be captured and submitted for rabies testing. Specific steps for collecting a bat for testing can be found outlined in a video produced by The Idaho Department of Fish and Game: https://idfg.idaho.gov/blog/2017/06/i-found-bat-my-home-what-do-i-do

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

  • Never touch a bat with your bare hands;
  • If you have had an encounter with a bat, seek medical attention;
  • 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 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 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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Media Contacts:

Ashley Anderson    Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov

Katrina Williams     Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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