The Montana Department of Health and human Services is warning Montanans to be aware of rabies this spring.
"We recommend that you avoid touching all wild animals unless you have protective equipment," said Epidemiologist Elton Mosher. "In the latter stages of the disease, the animals do act somewhat confused and disoriented and may have neurological symptoms, but the average lay person isn't going to be able to tell that."

Rabies has a very high fatality rate and the best defense for pets is to get them vaccinated. When it comes to wild animals, some species are more likely to carry the disease than others.

"Fortunately we haven't had any rabies related deaths in humans since 1996 and 1997," Mosher said. "We had one each in those years. In Missoula county, by and large the biggest risk for your residents there is coming into contact with bats."

Mosher says that skunks also have a high number of rabies cases and are even more likely than bats to carry the disease in the eastern half of the state.