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CDC issues warning about bat-linked rabies after 3 people died

Bat observations in Montana are more frequent in autumn
Posted at 11:34 AM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 13:44:16-05

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued a warning about the risks of rabies from bats after three people, including a child, died in the United States.

In a press release, the CDC said the people died from rabies over five weeks between late September and early November 2021 after coming into direct contact with bats in or around their homes.

The agency said the cases occurred in Idaho, Illinois, and Texas.

According to the CDC, two cases were considered avoidable exposures after one was attributed to a bat roost in the home, and the other after the patient picked up a bat with their bare hands.

The bats were released and not captured for testing, the agency said.

The CDC said none of the victims received post-exposure prophylaxis shots, which prevent rabies from developing.

The agency said that the total number of rabies cases in 2021 was five, compared to zero reported rabies cases in people during 2019 and 2020.

The names and ages of those who died have not been released.

Preventative treatment for rabies is nearly 100% successful; the last identified human death in Montana happened in 1997. If you get bitten or scratched by an animal:

  • Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and warm water, and also use a viricidal agent such as iodine.
  • Seek medical attention and report the exposure immediately.

There are several species of bat that call Montana home, including: Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus); Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus); Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans); and Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii).