Lincoln County Public Health been notified of two separate bats, one found in Libby and one in Troy, that have tested positive for rabies.
Any bat that has physical contact with a person, or is found in an area where contact may have occurred but gone undetected, such as a bedroom with a sleeping adult or child, should be tested for rabies when possible.
If you or your child has any contact with a bat or find a bat in your home, or are bitten or scratched by any wild or stray animal, contact Lincoln County Public Health for follow-up at (406) 283-2442.
Rabies is a fatal disease. The rabies virus is carried in the saliva of infected warm-blooded mammals and is usually transmitted to people and other animals through a bite. Human rabies deaths in the United States are rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and average approximately one to two deaths per year since the 1990s.
These steps should be taken to minimize exposure to rabies:
Do not feed or handle wild animals, especially bats. Bats are a great concern in Montana because a bite may not be noticeable. 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. Do not allow children to bring bats or other wild animals to school.
Avoid animal bites from domestic animals. Teach children to never approach an animal at large, and to always ask an owner’s permission prior to petting an animal. Another common source of bite exposures are adults attempting to rescue a feral animal. Sick or injured animals that have not been socialized can become aggressive when someone attempts to handle them.
Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies. Cats are especially susceptible to rabies exposure as a result of more contact with wild animals than dogs. All dogs and cats should have a current rabies certificate.
Bat-proof your house. Bats must not be allowed in living areas of your home. Put screens on all windows, doors and chimneys to prevent bats from entering. You can prevent bats from roosting in attics or buildings by covering outside entry points, loosely hanging clear plastic sheeting or bird netting over these areas. Bats crawl out and leave, but cannot re-enter. 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 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 an animal control agency if you think it may pose a danger.