Photo courtesy of Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Montana officials are reporting this morning, September 28, that they now know what kind of rabies was found in a Missoula skunk.

"That sample from our diagnostic lab in Bozeman was sent on to the Centers for Disease Control where they looked at different characteristics of the actual rabies virus to determine the variant and it was reported back this morning that the rabies found in the Missoula skunk is consistent with a bat variant," said Montana Assistant State Veterinarian Thanee Szymanski.

Somehow the skunk was either bitten by a rabid bat or ingested a bat with rabies.The news brought a lot of relief to animal control officials that were worried the state's rabies management plans might need an overhaul.

"Ultimately it is good news," Szymanski said. "It's certainly the answer we were expecting to get back. It kind of confirms how we have managed rabies. If we knew that the skunk variant was expanding the territory that we are finding it in, I think we would have to make some modifications to management of rabies on that side of the divide."

Szymanski says the news will not change the quarantine rules for Missoula. The quarantine will remain in place just in case the bat rabies was spread by the skunk to other animals that could continue passing the contagion.


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