An Idaho woman died from rabies after being bitten by a crow

An outbreak of rabies among crows is suspected in the death of an Idaho woman and is suspected in the death of her cat and two other animals, officials said. The woman was found…

An Idaho woman died from rabies after being bitten by a crow

An outbreak of rabies among crows is suspected in the death of an Idaho woman and is suspected in the death of her cat and two other animals, officials said.

The woman was found dead by her husband on Feb. 12 in their home in Post Falls, a small city in northern Idaho.

There are likely many more victims: Wildlife officials are not sure how many crows the woman was bitten by, but they believe there are at least five in the area.

Since the World War II period, when rabies was eliminated in the U.S., human deaths from the disease have been rare, in part because it was usually contained to rural areas where bats regularly disappeared from houses and barns. But in recent years, rabies has flared in urban areas across the West.

And it is spreading southward again.

In the past two years, rabies infections in birds have popped up in Los Angeles and Chicago, according to new CDC estimates. Now Idaho is reporting its first human death from rabies in more than 40 years.

So far, the outbreak in north Idaho has resulted in nine crows that had been bitten by humans being killed and more than a dozen cats being euthanized, the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare said.

“Our concerns with this outbreak are not limited to just the disease itself, but also to the fact that we have no way of identifying the other victims, and it’s still unknown how widespread the outbreak is. As of right now, none of the dead victims were wearing a clothing tag,” said Janet Heins, director of the department’s wildlife disease control unit.

All the dead birds tested positive for rabies, and the incubation period for exposure was seven days, an unusually short one. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, tests can detect exposure within 24 hours.

Most of the cat and crow victims also happened to live in the same neighborhood, and experts suspect the four others are victims of rabies.

State wildlife officials have asked people who see injured birds to call a hotline at 877-482-7765.

Even if the rest of the victims have no visible injuries, it is a “bad sign” if the bird has just been roaming around or is acting strange, said Thad Nelson, director of the wildlife department.

Besides testing all crows and cats, experts are looking at habitat options in the area for dealing with the avian outbreak.

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