A bat in Ada County, Idaho tested positive for rabies on July 12. It was Idaho’s first bat to test positive this year.

The bat had contact with two dogs, both of which were already vaccinated. Public Health officials are investigating to see if it had any contact with humans.

“Rabies is a fatal viral illness in people and animals if proper medical management isn’t sought early after an exposure to a rabid animal,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian, in a press release. “People should call their healthcare providers promptly if they believe they have been bitten or scratched by a bat to discuss the need for post-exposure shots, which are extremely effective at preventing rabies. People can contact their veterinarians to discuss ways to protect animals.”

According to the press release, bats are the only animals in Idaho known to carry rabies. An average of 15 bats test positive for rabies each year in Idaho. Last year, 26 tested positive. In 2021, an Idaho resident died from the disease.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare gives the following guidelines for dealing with and preventing bat-related infections:

— Never touch a bat with your bare hands.

— If you had contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, get medical advice immediately. Healthcare providers may discuss the need for a life-saving series of shots called rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

— Call your local public health district about testing a bat for rabies. If it is determined you or your pet may be at risk of rabies, the bat can be tested for free through the state public health laboratory with approval from Public Health.

— If you must handle a bat, always wear thick gloves.

— If the bat is alive, save it in a non-breakable container with small air holes. If the bat is dead, the bat should be double-bagged and sealed in clear plastic bags. In either case, contact your local public health district right away about how to manage the bat and get it tested for rabies.

— Contact your local Idaho Department of Fish and Game office about bat-proofing your home. Maintain tight-fitting screens on windows to reduce entry points.

— Always vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Even indoor pets could be exposed to rabies if a bat gets into a home. Household pets and other animals can be exposed to the virus by playing with sick bats that can no longer fly normally.

— Teach your children to avoid bats and to let an adult know if they find one.

For more information on rabies, visit the CDC website.