COEUR d'ALENE - Northern Idaho's third rabid bat in the last month was caught this week in Coeur d'Alene by a family pet dog, prompting public health officials to remind people not to handle bats and to make sure their pets' rabies vaccinations are up to date.
"It's unusual to have three rabid bats this early in the year," says Dave Hylsky, an epidemiologist at the Panhandle Health District. "People need to remember, and to teach their children, not to touch bats or any wild animals with their bare hands."
No people were directly exposed to the latest rabid bat. The family dog had been vaccinated and was re-vaccinated after touching the bat. The dog will remain under watch at home for several weeks.
Another bat in Coeur d'Alene and one in Spirit Lake within the last month also tested positive for rabies. One exposed a pet cat which is also under watch at home. The other bat possibly exposed three people inside their home while they were sleeping. The people underwent a series of five shots each to protect them from rabies.
When capturing a bat, people should wear long sleeves and heavy leather gloves and seal it in a double plastic bag. Use a heavy plastic container to capture and secure the bat and take care not to expose themselves or others to bat saliva or bites during bat capture.
There is no charge for rabies testing, but testing is only provided if a person or pet was exposed. Anyone planning to bring a bat to PHD for testing should call 415-5220 first.