Boise County Man Died from Rabies After Contact with Bat
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-Idaho health officials say a Boise County man died from rabies after a bat got caught in his clothing in late summer. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said this is the first case in Idaho since 1978 where a person has died from rabies. Officials said the man had come in contact with a bat in late August when it got caught in his clothing however, the man didn't think the animal had bitten him or scratched him. Yet, in October the man had gotten sick and ended up in the hospital where he died. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Confirmed the case as being rabies. Idaho health officials didn't find out about the bat exposure until after the investigation began.
Although human cases of rabies in the country are rare, exposure to the deadly disease is very common. Health and Welfare said around 60,000 people in the United States are given the post-exposure vaccine every year. The disease has the highest mortality rate of any others. “Every year we have several people and pets exposed to rabies in our district, generally spring through fall,” said Central District Health Communicable Disease Control Program Manager Lindsay Haskell in a prepared statement. “We want our residents and visitors to Idaho to be informed of the risk of rabies, to take appropriate steps to limit risk, and to take action when necessary.”
Most of the time people are aware they've been bitten by a bat, but in some cases, because bats have very small teeth, it might go unnoticed. Idaho health officials say if people wake up to find a bat inside a room with them, and are not sure they've come in contact with the animal, people should properly capture the animal for testing. If tests can be done on the animal to confirm the presence of rabies then the individual won't need to get the preventative treatment. Laboratory testing is the only way to confirm rabies in a bat. So far this year, according to the Idaho Health and Welfare, 14 bats have tested positive for rabies.