July 26, 2008

Two Bats Test Positive for Rabies in Ada County

By Colleen Lamay, The Idaho Statesman, Boise

Jul. 26--Health officials are warning the public to stay away from bats and to make sure their pets are current on vaccinations after two rabid bats were found in Ada County.

Two rabid bats also were recently reported in Kootenai County.

No information was available on the circumstances surrounding the four cases, but rabid bats are not unusual in Idaho. Last year, 12 rabid bats were reported statewide.

Rabies causes a fatal viral illness in humans and animals. The last case of human rabies in Idaho was in 1978.

So far this year, no doctor in Ada or the three other counties served by the Central District Health Department has reported treating patients exposed to rabies, said Dawn Irons, office services supervisor for the communicable-disease control program at the Health Department.

People who may have been exposed to rabies must begin treatment as soon as possible. Once symptoms appear, it is almost always too late to prevent death.

"People should call their health care provider immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat," Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist, said in a news release.

Rabies symptoms start with loss of appetite and headaches. Two to 10 days later, victims suffer hyperactivity and hypersensitivity, disorientation, hallucinations, seizures and paralysis. Death results from heart attacks, among other causes.

Treatment to prevent rabies includes doses of Human Rabies Immune Globulin, along with five doses of rabies vaccine, according to the Health Department. In Ada County, the medications are available at St. Alphonsus and St. Luke's medical centers, according to a Health Department information sheet.

Colleen LaMay: 377-6448


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