Like everything, bats play an essential role in our ecosystem. They eat insects, pollinate plants, and spread seeds. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they are also the most common source of human rabies in the United States. If bitten by an infected bat, people and animals can get rabies. You cannot tell if a bat has rabies just by looking at it. Bats also have very small teeth, so you may not even notice you’ve been bitten.
This is why it is so important to keep bats out of your home. If possible, contact an animal control or wildlife conservation agency for help in “bat-proofing.” Otherwise, you can caulk any holes larger than a quarter inch and make sure your doors are closed tightly. You should also use chimney covers, window screens, and draft guards, particularly around attics. Bats can even enter homes through loose shingles, siding, or open vents.
If a bat gets in your home and there is a chance that it had contact with a person, pet, unattended young child, a sleeping individual, a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a person with other sensory or mental impairment, please follow these simple guidelines:
- Do not touch the bat with your bare hands. Put on leather work gloves.
- Get a small box or coffee can, a piece of cardboard and tape.
- Wait for the bat to land.
- Approach the bat slowly, and while wearing the gloves, place the box or coffee can over it.
- Slide the cardboard under the box or can to trap the bat.
- Tape the cardboard to the can or box opening so the bat cannot escape.
- Punch small holes in the cardboard allowing the bat to breathe.
- Leave the bat in the container. Then take the container outside and call the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7280, or the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department at (585) 243- 7100 after hours.
- Do not release the bat. The bat should be tested for rabies to determine the need for rabies treatment.
If you have pets, make sure they are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. This is the most effective way to protect them.
If you or your pet have had physical contact with a bat, please call the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7280. For more information, please visit our website.
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