Rabid bat found in Bingham County

July 29, 2018

Local health officials have issued a warning to area residents after a rabid bat was found in Bingham County.

According to officials at Southeastern Idaho Public Health, a dead bat that was found in a rural part of the county has recently tested positive for rabies. The agency did not say where in Bingham County the bat was found.

This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in Idaho this year, which is a unusual, according to Jeff Doerr, epidemiologist for Southeastern Idaho Public Health. The first bat to test positive in the state of Idaho last year was discovered in early May.

In total, 20 rabid bats were found throughout the state in 2016, with two found in Idaho Public Health District 6. It encompasses Bannock, Bingham, Power, Oneida, Franklin, Caribou, Bear Lake and Butte counties.

“It seems like every year, we’ll see a couple of bats infected in the district,” Doerr said.

Rabies is a fatal viral illness that causes inflammation of the brain in humans and other animals. According to Southeastern Idaho Public Health, household pets and other animals can be exposed to rabies by playing with sick bats, which is why residents must ensure that their animals are vaccinated against the virus.

Humans can also be infected with rabies, but those type of cases are rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are only one to three cases of human rabies reported annually in the United States.

Doerr said the last time a human tested positive for rabies in Idaho was in 1979.

Southeastern Idaho Public Health has provided the following tips on how area residents can protect themselves and their pets from rabies.

Never touch bats.Be very suspicious of bat activity during daylight hours. If you or your child wake up in the presence of a bat, discuss the situation with a medical provider. Seemingly insignificant exposure to bats have contributed to several fatal rabies cases in the past. If you have an encounter with a bat, seek medical attention immediately. Save the bat in a container and contact your local district health department immediately for testing. Never handle a bat with your bare hands. Instead, use gloves or a towel to handle the bat. You can bat-proof your home or cabin by checking chimneys, roof peaks, loose screening on louvers, dormer windows or areas where flashing has pulled away from the roof or siding. Bats can enter holes the size of a quarter. Typically, bat-proofing is best after bats have migrated away from the area in the fall. Always vaccinate your pets, including dogs, cats, horses and ferrets. Pets may encounter bats in the outdoors or inside the home. If your dog or cat brings a dead bat home, collect it in a plastic bat without touching it and call your district health department for testing. Contact your veterinarian to make sure your animals’ rabies vaccinations are up-to-date.

For additional information about rabies, contact Doerr at 208-478-6321 or visit Southeastern Idaho Public Health’s website at www.siphidaho.org or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.