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Blaine County on High Alert After Rabid Bat Found
Wednesday, July 21, 2021


Blaine County residents are advised to make sure their dogs, cats and horses are vaccinated for rabies after a bat caught in Blaine County tested positive for rabies on Tuesday.

It’s the first bat this year to test positive for rabies in south central Idaho.

“Bat bites are extremely small and hard to see. Any suspected exposure should be taken seriously as rabies is nearly always fatal,” said Tanis Maxwell, the South Central Public Health District’s Epidemiology Program manager. “If you have contact with a bat, or find one in your home while you are sleeping. it’s important you contact your health care provider right away and ask about treatment.”  

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.

Idaho has 13 of the more than 1,300 species of bats, including the silver-haired bat, hoary bat, fringed bat, big brown bat and spotted bat. Most have a wingspan of about 12 inches and can fit in the palm of a hand. The smallest is the bumblebee bat weighing less than a penny and found in Thailand.

Bats’ wings are their hands,,sporting four fingers and a thumb with skin stretched over their arms and between their fingers.

They do play an important role in the ecosystem. Therefore, people are asked to give bats plenty of space. Do not try to touch, kill or trap the bat unless you are concerned someone came into contact with the animal. Only attempt to capture the bat if you can do so safely, avoiding direct contact with the animal.

If you have had contact with a bat and need it tested, call 208-737-5912 or 208-737-5971 to speak with a Health District epidemiologist.

  • Do not touch a bat with your bare hands. Be very suspicious of any bat active during daylight hours. 
  • If a bat attacks you, 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. Pets may encounter bats outdoors or in the home. 
  • Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintain 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. 


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