ADA COUNTY — Idaho public health officials reported Monday that two rabid bats were found in two separate Ada County homes.
These are the first rabid bats detected this season, according to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.
Bats are the only natural carriers of rabies in Idaho and should always be avoided, a department press release said. No area of the state is considered rabies-free. While most bats do not carry rabies, an average of 15 rabid bats are detected in Idaho each year.
“Rabies is a fatal viral illness without proper medical management,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian, in the release. “People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they may have been bitten or scratched by a bat.”
Medical therapy administered after an animal bite or other exposure is “extremely effective in preventing rabies,” Tangelsen said.
Bats should be tested for rabies if there is any chance a person or pet might have been in contact with the bat, the release said. There is no need to test a bat that has had no interaction with people or pets.
To protect yourself and your pets, public health officials recommend these guidelines:
- 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.
- 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 it is dead, the bat should be double-bagged and sealed in clear plastic bags.
- Never put a live bat in a freezer to kill it.
- Contact your local Idaho 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.
For more information about rabies, visit healthandwelfare.idaho.gov or call your local public health district.