We have been reading lately of people being bitten by bats and bats carrying rabies. One or 2 people die each year in the United States from rabies. Rabies is a virus spread through the saliva of a rabid animal which attacks the brain and nervous system and is often fatal.
There was a recent report of a bat on an airplane (flight from Madison, WI to Atlanta GA) and the CDC are trying to contact everyone on the plane to be tested. The CDC says the risk of contracting rabies from the bat is low, but the agency is trying to reach passengers and personnel to see if they had direct contact with the animal. Bats can transmit the deadly virus via bites or scratches, or by passing along saliva into wounds, eyes, the nose or mouth. Rabies can’t be passed along by simply touching bat fur or coming into contact with bat feces or urine.
If you see a bat during the day it’s more likely it will have rabies. Since bat bites can be very small people may not even know they have been bitten. If you suspect it wash the area thoroughly and seek immediate medical attention.
The first symptoms if you don’t know you were in contact with rabies is symptoms of the flu – general weakness, fever and headache. You can read more here on the symptoms.
Our state health department recently put out an alert to bat proof your home. At first we thought it was a little funny and thought what does one do exactly to bat-proof a home? Here is what they suggested:
- Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry to the home.
- Any openings larger than ¼ inch by ½ inch should be caulked.
- Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft guards beneath doors to attics.
- Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking.
- Ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.
- Observe where the bats exit at dusk and exclude them by loosely hanging clear plastic sheeting or bird netting over these areas (bats can leave, but can not reenter).
- After bats have been excluded, the openings can be permanently sealed.
- Avoid exclusion from May through August because many young bats are unable to fly and may die trapped inside or make their way into living quarters.
- Most bats leave to hibernate in fall or winter, so this is the best time to “bat-proof.”