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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

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.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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