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posted on July 27, 2009 11:31

 

People Urged to Take Precautions Following Rabid Bat Discovery

A bat in
AdaCounty has tested positive for rabies, prompting Idaho health officials to remind people throughout the state to take precautions around bats and make sure that their dogs, cats and horses are adequately vaccinated against rabies.
 
This bat is the first of the year to test positive for rabies. Every year rabid bats are reported from across Idaho. Last year, 10 bats tested positive for rabies, which can cause a fatal viral illness in humans and other animals.
 
“Bats and other mammals can carry rabies, making it extremely important for people to avoid bats or other animals, wild or domestic, that may appear sick or are acting aggressive or in an abnormal manner,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “People should not pick up or touch any bat. People should call their health care provider immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy administered to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies.”
 
While most bats are harmless and do not carry rabies, they are the only animal in Idaho to naturally carry the virus. Most animals, including household pets, can become exposed to the virus by playing with sick bats that can no longer fly.
 
People usually come into contact with bats when a pet brings home a sick or dead bat, or when a bat enters the home through small openings or open windows. People who wake up from sleeping and find a bat in their room may have had an exposure without realizing it; the teeth of a bat are very small and people are sometimes bitten in their sleep without feeling it. The bat should be tested for rabies if there is any question that an exposure may have occurred.
 
In addition to rabid bats, over the last 20 years, several cats, a skunk, a bobcat and a horse were also infected with the bat strain of the rabies virus in Idaho.
 
To protect yourself and your pets, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare offers the following tips:
·         Do not touch a bat with your bare hands;
·         If you have had an encounter with a bat, seek medical attention immediately; 
·         If you come in contact with a bat, save the bat in a container without touching it and contact your district health department to arrange testing for rabies. Whenever possible, the bat should be tested to rule out an exposure to rabies. This is a free service;
·         Always vaccinate your pets, including horses. Pets may encounter bats outdoors or in the home; and
·         Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.
 
For further information call the District Health Department in your area. Information on rabies can be found at the following website: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/
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