The Central District Health Department is urging people to avoid contact with bats and protect their animals during an above-average season of rabid bats.
Seven bats have been confirmed with rabies in Ada County since June, officials said in a news release Tuesday. Last year, Ada County saw just two rabid bats — and 10 bats statewide tested positive for rabies, officials said. To date, 13 bats have tested positive for rabies in Idaho, with more than half of them found in Ada County.
“This season, rabid bats have been confirmed in all types of environments — from neighborhoods near Downtown Boise to Meridian, and Bown Crossing. Rabid bats are possible in all areas of Idaho. We have seen the number of phone calls about bat encounters increase in the past weeks,” said Sarah Correll, Central District Health Department Epidemiologist.
Bats are the main source of rabies exposures in Idaho, according to the news release. The fall months can bring an increase in bat interactions as many bats begin migrating to warmer climates.
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Rabies can cause a fatal illness, and people should call their health care provider if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat, officials said. Medical therapy given to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about the importance of not touching bats or other wild animals, and animal owners should seek veterinary care promptly if they suspect their pet has been exposed to a rabid animal, even if the pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
One warning sign that a bat may carry rabies is daytime activity, which is unusual behavior for healthy bats. However, not all rabid animals show signs of illness.