Rabies infection is virtually 100% fatal in people and animals, without timely medical intervention. Medical attention should be sought promptly for you or someone you know if an exposure to a rabid animal cannot be ruled out. Seek veterinary care promptly if you suspect your pet has been exposed to a rabid animal, even if your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
Rabid bats, detected in 2014 by the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, are shown in Figure 1. by county of origin, species, and date of report. Only bats are known to be natural reservoirs for rabies in Idaho. However, bats are not the only animal to worry about; all mammals can become infected with the virus and ALL mammals should be considered potentially rabid when they bite, scratch, or otherwise expose people or pets to their saliva.
Bites are considered the primary way rabies is transmitted. Other exposures that could also be considered high risk for infection include contacting nervous tissue (brain or spinal cord) from a potentially rabid animal or waking in a room with a bat, without having a clear idea of the bat’s behavior during the night.
Rabid bats have been reported from almost all parts of Idaho and have been detected from May to November. Between 1999 and 2013 an average of 16 bats (range of 5 – 38) per year, or 10.6% of bat submissions (range: 4.8% to 19.8%), tested positive for rabies by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Bureau of Laboratories (IBL) (see RABIES IN IDAHO).
A handful of other species in Idaho have also been documented with the bat strain of rabies (see RABIES IN IDAHO). Because other mammals have tested positive for rabies, the risk of rabies exposure from bites, scratches, or other exposures to saliva from mammals other than bats must not be ignored as a possible source of rabies.
UPDATED: September 15, 2014