IDHW: Idaho man dies from rabies infection

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Posted at 1:11 PM, Nov 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 12:40:22-05

An Idaho man died from a rabies infection, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced.

The man found a bat on his property in August when it flew near him and became tangled in his clothing, according to IDHW. He did not believe he was bitten or scratched, but got sick in October and later died at a Boise hospital, according to IDHW.

“This tragic case highlights how important it is that Idahoans are aware of the risk of rabies exposure,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn in a statement. “Although deaths are rare, it is critical that people exposed to a bat receive appropriate treatment to prevent the onset of rabies as soon as possible.”

It is the first human case and death from rabies reported in Idaho since 1978, IDHW and Central District Health confirmed. His exposure to the bat was only discovered by health officials once an investigation into his illness began, according to IDHW.

Both IDHW and CDH are working with healthcare providers, family and the hospital to identify anyone else may have been exposed.

“Idahoans are reminded that bats can become infected with rabies. While bats can be beneficial to our environment, people should be wary of any bat encounter, including waking up to a bat in your room, or any situation where there may have been a bite or scratch,” Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian, said in a statement.