Flathead health officials urge testing for potential rabies expo - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Flathead health officials urge testing for potential rabies exposures

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Health department officials in Flathead County send a reminder that rabies continues to pose a risk to pets and people.

In a press release on Monday, the Flathead City-County Health Department (FCCHD) has noted a significant increase in the number of reported human and domestic animals contact/interactions with bats and skunks. 

Health Officer Hillary Hanson says that it is important to note that not all bats and skunks carry rabies, but in order to know for certain, the animal must be available for testing.

If a bat or skunk is not available for testing and a person or animal has been bitten, scratched or been in direct contact, it is considered a rabies exposure and the appropriate follow-up (including post exposure prophylaxis for humans) must be completed.

If a bat or skunk has had animal or human contact, the Flathead City-County Health Department will cover the rabies testing cost.

"Unfortunately this year, we have investigated a lot of interactions in which the bats or skunks are unavailable for testing. In these cases, we have had to recommend post exposure prophylaxis. We urge residents to be cautious. If you or your pet has had direct contact with the bat or skunk, please contact the Health Department to ensure proper handling and testing is completed. The Health Department will pay the fees for testing. It is one way we can ensure cost is not a barrier to testing and that we keep our community healthy," Hanson said.  

In order to ensure FCCHD can test a bat or a skunk for rabies the brain/head must be intact and the head must be refrigerated until sent for testing (do not freeze).  

Call the Flathead City-County Health Department at (406) 751-8110 to discuss potential rabies exposure and proper procedures.  

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