TWIN FALLS — A bat caught southeast of Joslin Field-Magic Valley Regional Airport tested positive Aug. 24 for rabies, South Central Public Health District announced.
SCPHD reminds community members to make sure their dogs, cats and horses are up-to-date with their rabies vaccination.
It’s the first bat here in south-central Idaho this year to test positive for rabies, SCPHD said in a statement. Rabies can cause a fatal viral illness in both people and pets, the health district said.
“Bat bites are extremely small and hard to see,” SCPHD epidemiologist Christi Dawson-Skuza said in a statement. “If you find a bat was in your home while someone was sleeping, contact your health care provider right away and, if able, bring the bat to the Health District for testing.”
If you catch a bat and need to get it tested, call 208-737-5904 or 208-737-5971 to talk with a health district epidemiologist.
SCPHD urges residents to attempt bat captures only if they can do it safely while avoiding direct contact with the bat.
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Most bats are harmless and don’t carry rabies, but they’re the only animal in Idaho that can naturally carry the virus, SCPHD said.
Animals can become exposed to the virus by playing with sick bats that can no longer fly.
“Rabies is almost always fatal,” Skuza said in a statement. “It is crucial you keep yourself and your animals away from any infected bats.”
SCPHD recommends taking these precautions to protect against rabies:
- Don’t touch a bat with your bare hands. Be very suspicious of bat activity during daylight hours.
- If you have an encounter with a bat, seek medical attention immediately, save the bat in a container without touching it and contact your district health department to arrange for rabies testing.
- Always vaccinate your pets, including horses.
- Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows. Bats can enter through holes the size of a quarter.
- Typically, bat-proofing is best after most bats have migrated away in the fall.
For more information on bats and rabies, visit phd5.idaho.gov.