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Health officials: Teach children to avoid bats

Health officials: Teach children to avoid bats

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Public health officials want you to tell your kids to stay away from bats. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, three bats in eastern Idaho tested positive for rabies in 2013. In total, 20 bats in all of Idaho have been tested positive in 2013. The most recent was captured in central Idaho over Labor Day weekend.

Idaho Fish and Game said with Halloween around the corner, kids get curious.

"Any bat that you could pick up could be injured and carry a disease but the same holds true just for about any other mammal that is out there," said Gregg Losinski, regional conservation educator.

One epidemiologist from the Eastern Idaho Public Health District said bats can bite or scratch you in your sleep. If that happens, you should call your doctor right away.

The Centers for Disease Control said early symptoms of rabies include headache, fever and itching. Within days, people can experience hallucinations and delirium.   

"Rabies is almost always 100 percent fatal. On the flip side if you have an exposure the vaccination is almost 100 percent effective in every case too," said Ken Anderson  from the Eastern Idaho Public Health District.

Bats play a big role in Idaho. Losinski said the Gem State has 13 species.

"They're all insect eaters so it is very beneficial to agriculture and to folks that are just out and about," he said.

Health officials said if you come in contact with a bat do not touch it with your bare hands but use thick gloves. You can place the bat in a non-breakable container if it is alive. If it is dead, you can put it in a sealed clear plastic bag. You can call the Eastern Idaho Public Health District to test the bat for rabies. They could also test you, which is free of charge. Health officials said rabies are deadly for your pets too. They said you should get your dogs, cats, ferrets and horses vaccinated.  

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