A bat in Cascade County tested positive for rabies

The Cascade City-County Health Department (CCHD) in Montana recently confirmed a case of rabies in a bat from Cascade County, marking the second instance in the area within a year. Rabies is a deadly virus if not treated, but prompt treatment before the onset of symptoms is almost guaranteed to be successful. The last human death from rabies in Montana occurred in 1997.

To prevent and respond to a rabies exposure, the CCHD advises against feeding or handling wild animals, particularly bats and skunks, which are the most likely carriers of the rabies virus in Montana. Bats are of specific concern because their teeth are small, making bites hard to notice, and people are sometimes bitten in their sleep. To avoid animal bites from domestic animals, individuals should not approach unfamiliar animals and always ask for the owner’s permission before petting an animal.

If bitten or scratched by an animal, immediate action is crucial. Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and warm water and use a viricidal agent like iodine. Seek medical attention and report the exposure immediately. For domestic animals like dogs, cats, or ferrets, the animal can be observed for signs of rabies, avoiding the need for treatment in most cases. If the animal cannot be located, observed, or tested, a person may need a series of immunizations to prevent rabies.

The CCHD also recommends vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies, as it is required by law and essential for their protection. Cats are especially susceptible to rabies. Additionally, bat-proofing homes by installing screens on windows, doors, and chimneys can help prevent bat entry.

Several species of bat call Montana home, including the Big Brown Bat, Little Brown Myotis, Silver-haired Bat, and Townsend’s Big-eared Bat. Further details about the location where the rabid bat was found in Cascade County and how it was recovered for testing are currently unavailable.

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