GREAT FALLS, Mont. – The Cascade City-County health department confirmed that a bat found in the county tested positive for rabies on September 17.
Although rabies is a fatal disease, preventive treatment is almost 100% successful.
You are advised to follow these tips to prevent and respond appropriately to exposure to rabies:
- Do not feed or handle wild animals, especially bats. Bats and skunks are the most likely carriers of the rabies virus in Montana and should be avoided. Bats are of particular concern because their teeth are so small that a bite may not be noticeable, and people are sometimes bitten while sleeping unknowingly.
- Avoid bites from pets. Stay away from unfamiliar animals and always ask the owner’s permission before petting an animal.
- Do not try to help sick or injured wildlife.
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies. Rabies vaccinations are required by law, and all dogs and cats must have a current rabies certificate. Cats are particularly susceptible to rabies.
- Protect your home from bats. Put screens on all windows, doors and chimneys to prevent entry of bats.
- Know what to do in case of a bite. 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 an animal cannot be located, observed, or tested, a person may need to undergo a series of vaccinations to prevent rabies. If you are bitten, call a healthcare professional or CCHD immediately.