KALISPELL, Mont. - The Flathead City-County Health Department is sharing rabies prevention tips after a bat that had human contact tested positive for rabies.
According to the health department, this is the first animal that has tested positive for rabies in Flathead County in 2022.
“Unfortunately, this year we have investigated several interactions in which the bats are unavailable for testing. In these cases, we have had to recommend postexposure prophylaxis. We urge residents to be cautious around bats. If you or your pet has had direct contact with a bat, please contact the Health Department to ensure proper handling and testing,” said Health Officer Jen Rankosky.
The health department says that if a bat has had animal or human contact, they will cover the cost to test it for rabies.
If a person or animal is bitten, scratched for has been in direct contact with a bat, and it is not available for testing, it is considered a rabies exposure and the appropriate follow-up (including postexposure prophylaxis for humans) must be completed.
“Please note, bats are of special concern because a bat bite may not be noticeable. If a bat is found in an area where contact may have occurred but gone undetected, such as a bedroom with a sleeping adult or child, it should be tested for rabies,” the Flathead City-County Health Department said.
To be able to test a bat for rabies, the brain/head must be intact and must be refrigerated, not frozen, until sent for testing.
You can find more instructions on how to safely capture a bat for testing on the health department’s website at flatheadhealth.org.
Call the Flathead City-County Health Department-Communicable Disease at 406-751-8117 to discuss potential rabies exposure and proper procedures.
The Flathead City-County Health Department shared the following rabies prevention tips:
- Do not feed or handle wild animals, especially bats. Teach children never to touch wild animals or handle bats, even dead ones. Ask children to tell an adult if they see or find a bat.
- Vaccinate your dogs and cats against rabies.Cats are particularly susceptible to rabies exposure due to a higher risk of interaction with wild animals. All dogs and cats are required to have a current rabies certificate in Flathead County.
- Bat-proof your house. Place screens on all windows, doors and chimneys to prevent bats from entering. Prevent bats from roosting in attics or buildings by covering outside entry points. However, to avoid trapping any young bats who will die or try to make their way into your rooms, seal the openings permanently after August or in the fall after the bats have left for the season.
- Watch for abnormal wild animal behavior. Most wild animals avoid humans and seeing skunks and bats during the daytime is rare. If you see an animal acting strangely, leave it alone and contact law enforcement or animal control if you think it may pose a danger.