With schools around the state back in session, public health officials are asking parents and schools to talk with children about never handling live or dead bats. In 2006, children walking to school in Boise found a bat, which they took to school and exposed a number of other curious children to the potentially deadly rabies disease.
Bats play an important role in our environment. While most bats are harmless and do not carry rabies, they are the only animal in Idaho that is a natural reservoir for the virus and should be appreciated from a distance.
Rabid bats are detected in Idaho every year; no area of the state is considered free of rabies. Twenty bats have tested positive for rabies in Idaho so far this year. The seasonal average for rabid bats in Idaho is 15. At least 49 people have undergone rabies vaccinations after suspected or confirmed exposures to a rabid animal. The most recent rabid bat was captured in central Idaho over Labor Day weekend, after swooping down on people in an outdoor pool.
To protect yourself and your pets, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare offers these tips:
For more information, call your Public Health District. Information on rabies can be found at the following website: http://www.rabies.dhw.idaho.gov