Prior to 2017, rabies in Teton County was practically unheard of, since then rabies in bats has been confirmed multiple times. Although rabies is nearly always a fatal disease in humans, it can be successfully prevented if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment is started promptly after exposure and before symptoms develop. Because bat bites are not always visible, anyone who has direct contact with a bat or who wakes up with a bat in their room should immediately contact a doctor or public health provider for assessment. If possible, any bat that comes into contact with humans should be carefully captured so that rabies testing can be performed.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.
Bats have small teeth that may leave marks not easily seen. Although many people know if they have been bitten by a bat, there are certain circumstances when a person might not be aware or able to tell if they have been bitten. In these circumstances, a person should seek medical attention and have the bat tested for rabies.
- If a person awakes to find a bat in the room
- If you find a bat in a room with an unattended child
- If you see a bat near a person with a disability
- If possible, safely capture the bat for testing