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Posts tagged: rabies

First rabid bat of year bites eastern Idaho teen, who’s being treated

Idaho's first rabid bat of the year has been confirmed in eastern Idaho, and a teenager who found the injured bat in a local park and was bitten is being treated for rabies exposure, but is expected to be fine. “Rabies is a fatal viral illness without proper medical management. People should call their health care providers promptly if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “Medical therapy administered to people after an animal bite or other exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies. It is extremely important for people to avoid all bats and other wild animals, particularly if they appear sick or are acting aggressively or abnormally.” Idaho typically sees around 16 rabid bats a year; click below for tips from the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare to stay safe.

H&W: Teach kids to avoid bats

Idaho's Department of Health & Welfare is advising parents and schools to teach kids to avoid bats, and never handle live or dead bats that they may come across. The warning follows a 2006 incident in which children walking to school in Boise found a dead bat and brought it to school, exposing a number of schoolchildren to the potentially deadly rabies virus. “It is very important for parents to teach children to never handle a bat, or any other unfamiliar wild or domestic animal, even if they appear friendly,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho deputy state epidemiologist. “Don’t let them bring bats into show-and-tell, and teach children to report any contact with a bat to an adult right away.” Click below for H&W's full announcement, including tips to protect yourself and your pets; 20 bats have tested positive for rabies in Idaho so far this year, and at least 49 people have undergone rabies shots after exposure. The most recent rabid bat found in Idaho was captured in central Idaho over the Labor Day holiday weekend, after swooping down on people in an outdoor pool.

Cost of rabies vaccine a shocker, Idahoans learn…

When Nicholle Joyce learned she'd been exposed to a rabid bat at a Spirit Lake home in May and she was nine days into the 10-day window for a lifesaving vaccine for the fatal disease, she did what her doctor's office suggested - she went to the emergency room.  The result: A $5,000 bill for her, and another matching one for her friend who was in the same bind. Joyce had insurance, but it had a $3,000 deductible, and is only paying about $830. Her friend had none; Medicaid covered the shots for the friend’s 15-month-old son, but not the single mom. “It’s absolutely impossible for everyone to get a due-on-receipt of $5,000 and just go with it,” said Joyce, a veterinary technician from Athol.

Health officials said they, too, were shocked by the high price of the rabies vaccine, which consists of five shots on four specific days over several weeks; so far this year, three bats have been found in North Idaho that tested positive for rabies. But it’s something that’s so rarely needed that few doctor’s offices would stock it.

“That sounds absolutely, egregiously horrible,” Bob Marsalli, CEO of the Montana Primary Care Association, which oversees community health clinics in that state, said of the cost, “unless it was a hospital administering the vaccine. Here’s what we know: The worst place to get primary care is in the hospital emergency room, and the charge schedule for hospitals is one of the reasons why health care has reached the place it is.”

Now, the Dirne Community Clinic in Coeur d’Alene, which hasn’t offered the rabies vaccine in the past, is looking into it because of Joyce’s case. “It certainly would be a lot less,” said Dirne CEO Mike Baker; his community health center charges patients on a sliding scale based on their income, and works with both insured and uninsured patients; you can read my full story here from Saturday’s Spokesman-Review.

Idaho’s first rabid bat of season confirmed, after it flew into Kootenai County home

The season’s first rabid bat has been reported in Idaho, after it flew into a northern Kootenai County home and the residents found it lying on their staircase. “It was still alive, and they just kind of used a towel to pick it up and put it outside,” said Cynthia Taggart, spokeswoman for the Panhandle Health District. “They thought it would fly away, but it didn’t, it died – and that’s not a good sign. They wisely sent it off to us for testing and it was rabid.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Everyone in the house is now being treated for rabies, Taggart said, as there’s no way to know whether anyone was bitten by the bat. “There’s no signs of bites,” she said, “But bats have such sharp teeth that they can bite and you don’t know.” Current rabies treatment involves a series of five shots administered over a couple of weeks; two of the shots are given on the first day of treatment, which must commence within 10 days of exposure. “No one’s ever developed rabies who started within that 10-day window, and these people did,” Taggart said.

Rabies is considered endemic in Idaho’s bat population, and rabid bats have been found statewide. Usually, they don’t turn up until July, but Taggart said, “This last week of hot weather was really out of the ordinary for us, so I guess a lot of bats woke up. They hibernate over the winter.”

State health officials are warning Idahoans to stay away from bats. “People should call their health care providers immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy administered to people after an animal bite is extremely effective in preventing rabies,” a viral illness that is fatal in humans and animals, said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “It is extremely important for people to avoid bats or other wild animals that appear sick or are acting aggressively or abnormally.”

Said Taggart, “It’s important to let people know that if they do have a bat in their house, that they’re considered exposed. … They don’t know that it hasn’t bitten anybody, so they should right away get a hold of us.”

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has these tips:

·Do not touch a bat with your bare hands.

·If you have had contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, seek medical advice immediately.

·If you come in contact with a bat, save it in a non-breakable container if it is alive, or sealed and double-bagged in clear plastic bags without touching it if it’s dead. Call your public health district to determine whether testing the bat for rabies is indicated. If it is determined that you or your pet may be at risk of exposure to rabies, testing of the bat is a free service.

·Always vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses — even indoor pets could be exposed to rabies if a bat gets into a home.

·Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.

·Parents should teach their children to avoid bats and to let an adult know if they find one.

Bat tests positive for rabies; it bit a child in Caldwell yesterday

A bat that bit a child playing near the Indian Creek Bridge in Caldwell yesterday has tested positive for rabies. Southwest District Health officials said today that the girl's family has been notified and treatment will begin today. Rabies can be fatal if left untreated; officials are warning people to steer clear of bats. You can read the health district's full announcement here.

Summer’s first rabid bat reported in southeastern Idaho

Idaho has had its first confirmed rabid bat, as a bat from southeastern Idaho tested positive for rabies last week, prompting a warning from the state Department of Health & Welfare for precautions, from making sure pets and horses are vaccinated against rabies, to avoiding contact with bats, the only animal in Idaho that naturally carries the rabies virus. Click below for the full news release from H&W; Idaho averages 15 rabid bat reports per year statewide.

Aggressive bats strike again in Wood River Valley; three undergoing rabies shots

It’s happened again: Aggressive bats have attacked people in the Wood River Valley, and three people now are undergoing painful rabies vaccines. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that one person was bitten and two more may have been bitten; the encounters were in Bellevue, Hailey and Ketchum. This comes after a fisherman on the Wood River west of Hailey was pestered by an aggressive bat in July, and the bat, which he captured after finding it attached to his life vest as he went to leave, tested positive for rabies. In early August, a child who was swimming in a pond in Crouch was exposed to a rabid bat that swooped down and scratched him; the boy’s father captured the bat, and it, too, tested positive for rabies. No bats were captured in the three Wood River Valley incidents in the past week. The first rabid bat found in Idaho this year was in Shoshone County in North Idaho in March; last year, eight were found.

Health & Welfare officials say it’s unusual for a bat to be active during the daytime, let alone to aggressively attack humans; the odd behavior can be a sign of rabies, a fatal viral illness. “Bats and other mammals can carry rabies, making it extremely important for people to avoid bats or other animals, wild or domestic, that may appear sick or are acting aggressive or in an abnormal manner,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “People should not pick up or touch any bat. People should call their health care provider immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy administered to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies.”

Child exposed to rabid bat in Garden Valley

A child who was swimming in a pond in Crouch earlier this week was exposed to a rabid bat that swooped down and scratched him. The boy’s father captured the bat, and Idaho Health & Welfare officials confirmed that it was the third rabid bat found in Idaho this year. The first was in Shoshone County in March, and the second in Blaine County in July. The youngster, who was visiting from Oregon and is under age 10, is undergoing medical treatment for rabies exposure.

“It’s unusual for a bat to be active during the daytime,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “This is one warning signal that the bat may be carrying rabies.” Last year, eight rabid bats were found in Idaho.

Rabid bat attacks fisherman near Hailey

A fisherman on a tributary of the Wood River west of Hailey encountered an aggressive bat last weekend, and is now being treated for rabies after the bat tested positive for the fatal viral illness. It’s the second rabid bat of the season identified in Idaho; last year, there were eight.

The bat was aggressively flying around the man while he was fishing, and when he packed up to leave, he found it attached to his life vest, handled it and killed it. “Bats and other mammals can carry rabies, making it extremely important for people to avoid bats or other animals, wild or domestic, that may appear sick or are acting aggressive or in an abnormal manner,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “People should not pick up or touch any bat. People should call their health care provider immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy administered to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies.”

The first rabid bat found in Idaho this year was found in Shoshone County in March; here’s a link to the full announcement from Idaho Health & Welfare.

It’s now officially rabid bat season

A bat in Ada County has tested positive for rabies, prompting Idaho health officials to remind people throughout the state to take precautions around bats and make sure that their dogs, cats and horses are adequately vaccinated against rabies. It’s the first rabid bat found in Idaho this year; last year, there were 10. But here’s the part that’ll drive you batty: “People who wake up from sleeping and find a bat in their room may have had an exposure without realizing it; the teeth of a bat are very small and people are sometimes bitten in their sleep without feeling it,” Idaho Health & Welfare reports. “The bat should be tested for rabies if there is any question that an exposure may have occurred.”

Click below for the full announcement from H&W; over the past 20 years, Idaho’s had several cats, a skunk, a bobcat and a horse turn up infected with the bat strain of the rabies virus.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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