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Owyhee County cats test positive for rabies, first in Idaho since 1992



OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho – Idaho health officials are warning the public after a cat in Owyhee County tested positive for rabies.

The cat was tested at the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories last week after it behaved aggressively and grazed its owner

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the cat was infected with a strain of rabies virus that is normally associated with bats.

Officials say this is the first rabid cat discovered in Idaho since 1992, and the first rabid animal from Owyhee County to date in 2019.

When asked, the cat was found specifically in Owyhee County, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said they do not release the information because it can affect the cat owner's integrity.

Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, a state public health veterinarian with health and welfare, said bats are the main source of rabies in Idaho, all mammals ̵

1; wild or domestic – can be affected by the virus. It can include cats, dogs, horses, ferrets, raccoons, skunks and more.

"It is important to note that there is no part of the state that we believe rabies is free of charge," she said. "So we may have found this kitten in Owyhee County, but we find rabid animals in counties throughout the state each year so it is important that people take precautions for themselves and their pets."

According to Tengelsen, rabies is 100% fatal in both animals and humans when the virus is fully spread, so it is important that anyone who may have been exposed immediately should contact a doctor for a vaccine to try to stop rabies from developing into a complete infection.

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It's also important to make sure your animals are vaccinated.

"Your pet in theory can give rabies to you," Tengelsen said. is vaccinated, you also protect your family from potential exposure to rabies. "

Southwest District Health staff is working to make sure vulnerable people are right They also work with cat owners and the State Department of Agriculture in Idaho to ensure that other potentially vulnerable animals on the property are appropriately managed.

So far this year, 10 rabies bats and one rabid cat have been reported from across the state. In 2018, a total of 12 rabid bats were found in Idaho.

The autumn months can lead to an increase in bat interaction with humans and pets as many bats begin to move to warmer climates.

Regarding less common animals contracting viruses, statistics from the Idaho Department of Idaho Health and Welfare show that a skunk was tested positive for rabies in Idaho 2014, as was a bobcat in 2001 and a horse in 1999.

People bit by all Mammals, including cats and bats, should wash each wound properly with soap and water and call their caregiver immediately to confirm if they have been subjected to rabies.

Parents are urged to talk to their children about the importance of not touching bats or other wild or unfamiliar household animals, as this can have serious medical consequences. Pet owners should contact their veterinarian immediately if they suspect that their pet has been exposed to a rabid animal. They will need a booster even if the pet's vaccinations are up to date.

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To protect yourself and your pet, Idaho Health and Welfare offers the following tips:

  • Keep your pet rabies vaccination updated. Pets can encounter bats outdoors and at home. Vaccination against rabies is also a routine recommendation to protect horses.
  • Talk to your veterinarian if your pet suddenly starts acting strange; Rabies is just one of many possible causes of a behavior change.
  • Don't touch a bat with your bare hands.
  • Avoid bats to the best of their ability. If you have had an appointment with a bat (bite or scratch), contact a doctor immediately.
  • If you think you have been bitten or scratched by a bat, save the bat in a container without touching it and contact your public health district to inquire about testing bat for rabies.
  • Bat-proof your home or cottage appropriately.

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