IDHW: Rabid bat found in Bannock County, officials urge people to be cautious around bats

Posted at 2:52 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 16:52:23-04

The first rabid bat of the season was found in Bannock County, exposing one man and several pets.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare confirmed the first rabid bat Friday and announced a man, his dog and several cats were possibly exposed to rabies by the bat.

“Rabies is a fatal viral illness if not treated with proper medical management early after exposure. An Idaho man died last year after being exposed to a rabid bat,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian. “People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they may have been bitten or scratched by a bat to discuss the need for post-exposure shots, which are extremely effective in preventing rabies.”

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to rabies or their pets have been exposed should contact a healthcare provider, according to IDHW. Bats are the only known natural reservoir of rabies in Idaho and should be avoided in general, according to IDHW. Most bat encounters come from pets bringing them into the home or bats entering houses through open doors and windows. If you are unsure of contact with a bat, contact your healthcare provider.

Public health officials recommend taking the following precautions:

  • Never touch a bat with your bare hands.
  • If you have had contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, seek medical advice immediately. Healthcare providers may discuss the need for a life-saving series of shots.
  • 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 must handle a bat, always wear thick gloves.
  • If the bat is alive, save it in a non-breakable container with small air holes. If the bat is dead, the bat should be double-bagged and sealed in clear plastic bags. In either case, contact the public health district right away about how to manage the bat and how to get it tested for rabies.
  • Contact your localIdaho Department of Fish and Game office about bat-proofing your home. Maintain tight-fitting screens on windows.
  • Always vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Even indoor pets could be exposed to rabies if a bat gets into a home. Household pets and other animals can be exposed to the virus by playing with sick bats that can no longer fly normally.
  • Teach your children to avoid bats and to let an adult know if they find one.