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PHD: N. Idaho family exposed to rabid bat

Staff Report | February 17, 2024 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — A family and a dog were recently exposed to a rabid bat in Kootenai County, according to Panhandle Health District.

After being exposed to a bat Feb. 7, family members are receiving post-exposure shots to prevent rabies, the health district said in a news release Friday. The dog’s owners are working with their veterinarian for care of the pet.

Rabies is a deadly virus that affects the central nervous system. Any warm-blooded animal, including humans, can contract rabies, but bats are the only known natural reservoir of the rabies virus in Idaho. Exposure can happen any time of year.

Without timely medical intervention, rabies is virtually 100% fatal, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories tested the bat to which the family was exposed and determined the bat had rabies Tuesday. A follow-up test Thursday confirmed the bat was rabid.

Rabid bats have been reported from most counties in Idaho and have been detected from March to November, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“Between 2008 and 2022 an average of 15 bats per year tested positive for rabies,” the department’s website said. “Of all bat submissions, an average of 9.5% of annual bat submissions tested positive for rabies.”

Anyone who has contact with a bat should get get medical advice immediately and may need a life-saving series of shots called rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

“No area of Idaho is considered rabies-free,” Panhandle Health District said in a news release.