The summer season brings with it many outdoor activities to enjoy including hiking, camping and picnicking. It is wise to be aware of your surroundings and to understand the possibility of encountering bats while exploring the outdoors, and even the possibility of encountering a bat in your own home.
Bats often reside in undisturbed areas such as eve troughs, attics and crawl spaces. So long as they remain there and cannot gain access to the living space of buildings there is no immediate health hazard. However, if bats can gain access to the living space of buildings, particularly areas where people sleep, the risk of exposure to rabies is significantly elevated.
Rabies is an infectious disease that affects the nervous system and is always fatal once symptoms develop. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Most human cases of rabies in the Unites States are due to prior bat exposure, and in most cases direct contact with bats is not documented.
Bites from bats may be so minor as to not wake persons who are sleeping when the bite occurs.
To keep bats from entering your home, do not leave unscreened windows or doors open to the outside, eliminate attic access to living spaces, make sure window screens are in good repair and keep up with routine maintenance on the exterior of your home.
Keeping your home in good repair by caulking and sealing exterior holes and making sure attic vents are screened can minimize the likelihood of a bat encounter. Bats have been known to enter homes through openings as small as a pencil.
If a bat or bats are identified in a room where people sleep, please take the following actions:
- Immediately move residents in the home to a bat free building
- Contact your local health department to help determine your risk of rabies exposure
- Begin work to exclude bats from the building
- Do NOT repopulate the building until you are certain all bats are excluded
For more information, please visit: http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/story/Health_Department_offers_rabies_prevention_tips_id_003446