Watch out for bats
The Rhode Island Department of Health is seeing an uptick in bat encounters, so it’s taking this slow news day to urge residents to bat proof their homes. Health Department Director Dr. Michael Fine says when the weather gets warm, bats like to sneak out of the attic and into cooler areas of the home.
Bat rabies is highly transmissible to humans, and can be transmitted without being bitten or scratched by the bat. As a result, when we receive reports of potential exposure to a bat, the rabies vaccinations are recommended even if there is no visible bite mark or if the bat is not available for rabies testing.
These are some tips from DOH about what to do about bats.
Bat Rabies Prevention
- Hire a licensed professional to bat proof your home.
- If there is a bat in your house, try to confine the bat to one room and call a licensed professional to remove the bat(s). Do not go back into the room until the bat is caught. Keep all pets away from the bat.
- If you cannot reach a licensed professional, put on leather gloves and slowly approach the bat when it lands. Place a clear container over the bat. Slide a lid under the container, securely tape the lid and punch small holes in the lid so the bat can breathe. Contact HEALTH at 222-2577 or 272-5952 after hours to make arrangements for rabies testing.
- If you have been scratched or bitten by a bat or any other animal (even your own pet), have touched an animal you do not know, or see a bat in your home, contact HEALTH.If there is any possibility your pet animal(s) had any contact with a bat, call your local animal control officer or police department.
- Use screens on any open windows. Repair holes in screens.
Of course, rabies is a virus to definitely avoid. DOH says if timely vaccination doesn’t occur, “once there is disease onset, the illness is almost always fatal.”