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posted on June 12, 2014 13:31

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        Date: June 12, 2014

Contact:  Niki Forbing-Orr
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0693

Teen bitten by rabid bat found in eastern Idaho park; health officials urge caution

A teen in Bonneville County found what appeared to be an injured bat in a local park and was bitten while handling the animal. The bat has tested positive for the rabies virus, and the teen is receiving medical care and is expected to be fine. This situation has prompted public health officials to warn people across the state to take precautions around bats.

This is the first report of a rabid bat in the state in 2014. On average, 16 rabid bats are detected in Idaho each year. Most bats are harmless and do not carry rabies, but they are the only natural reservoir for the virus in Idaho so they should always be avoided. No area of the state is considered rabies-free.

“Rabies is a fatal viral illness without proper medical management. People should call their health care providers promptly if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “Medical therapy administered to people after an animal bite or other exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies. It is extremely important for people to avoid all bats and other wild animals, particularly if they appear sick or are acting aggressively or abnormally.”

People usually come into contact with bats when pets bring them home, when a bat gets into a home through small openings or open windows, or when they wake up to find a bat in their room and they can’t be sure that they weren’t bitten while they slept. Any bat should be tested for rabies if there is any suspicion that an exposure to a person or pet might have occurred. There is no need to test bats that have not come into contact with people or pets.

To protect yourself and your pets, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare offers these tips:

  • Never touch a bat with your bare hands.
  • If you have had contact with a bat or wake up to find one in your room, seek medical advice immediately.
  • If you come into contact with a bat, always use thick gloves to capture and save it in a non-breakable container with tiny air holes if it is alive, or sealed and double-bagged in clear plastic bags without touching it if it’s dead. Call your public health district to determine whether testing the bat for rabies is necessary. If it is determined that you or your pet may be at risk of exposure to rabies, testing of the bat is a free service.
  • 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.   
  • Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.
  • Parents should teach their children to avoid bats, to let an adult know if they find one, and never to take a bat to school.

For more information on rabies in Idaho call your local Public Health District

Information on rabies can also be found at the following website: http://www.rabies.dhw.idaho.gov
For information about the appropriate timing and process to bat-proof your home, see http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management/index.html

 

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