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Close encounter with bats sends a Boise family to the emergency room

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Five days went by after a family of seven woke up to bats in their cabin in Cascade. But because they didn’t feel like they had been bitten, they didn’t realize how important it is to get vaccinated anyway. It's an encounter that still haunts them in their sleep.

"To wake up to the sounds and then you're second guessing yourself. Surely it's not that, you're in a very nice place, it's not going to matter. But, that's where they were," said Lora Bushee, Boise resident.

It wasn't until Lora shared her story to a friend, five days later, when she realized the family of seven could have been exposed and needed to get vaccinated.

"I kept telling her I was not bitten, I didn't feel like anyone was scratched. That our family didn't seem to have any issues," Bushee said.

According to Central District Health, bites are the primary way to spread rabies. But waking up in a room with a bat, without having an idea of the bats previous behavior, can put people and pets at risk for rabies infection.

"Finding out through this whole process, found out that bat bites are often so small or so minor in the way they feel. That you will not realize that perhaps you've been compromised," Bushee said.

Health officials say without timely medical treatment, rabies infection is one hundred percent fatal in people and animals.

"To some degree you want to chuckle about it. If someone heard you talking about it initially they want to laugh but it is actually, pretty traumatic to think that seven people could have been compromised," Bushee said.

Unfortunately in this case, the bats were released. But health officials say if a bat is found in an area, inside or outside, where people may have been exposed. They need to be captured and submitted for rabies testing.

If you come into contact with a bat, Central District Health Department offers the following tips:

-Save the bat in a container and contact your district health department.

-Never touch a bat with your bare hands

-Rabies symptoms are similar to the flu including: weakness, fever and headache

-Seek medical attention right away

-Always vaccinate your pets for rabies, including horses. Pets may encounter bats outdoors or in the home.

-Bat proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.

For more information on bat exposure, click here.

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