LIBBY - A bat has tested positive for rabies in Lincoln County.
Lincoln County Health Department officials are urging residents and visitors to be aware of the risk of exposure to rabies as it is a fatal disease.
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal, a social media post states. Preventive treatment to stop the virus from causing illness is important and given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies.
“People can be exposed to a bat and not even know it,” said Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) Public Health Manager Jennifer McCully. “If a person has physical contact with a bat or a bat is found in an area where contact may have occurred, such as a bedroom, the bat should be tested for rabies if possible.”
If you or your family may have been exposed to a bat, please call Lincoln County Health Department at 406-283-2465 to discuss possible exposure.
If someone is bitten by a domestic dog, cat or ferret, the animal can be observed for signs of rabies, almost always avoiding the need for treatment. If any animal cannot be located, observed, or tested, a person may need to undergo a series of shots to prevent rabies.
LCHD would like to remind everyone of 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.
- 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.
- 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 if you think it may pose a danger.
For additional information contact the Lincoln County Health Department at 406-283-2465.