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As weather cools near autumn, beware bats entering the household

ABOYNE - While bats are effective pest controllers and can eat up to three times their body weight in insects every night, they can also carry rabies.

Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health is warning citizens that cooler summer nights cause bats to look for warm places to roost and often people will find them in their homes. Although the risk of rabies from a bat is low, officials said people should still be cautious if they encounter one.

“Bats have small, needle-like teeth and claws - bites or scratches can easily go undetected,” said Scott Hutchison, manager of health protection at WDG Public Health. “If a bat touches or lands on you and it’s possible you may have been bitten, scratched, or had contact with its saliva, you should seek medical attention.”

In cases of direct contact where the bat can be captured, Public Health can have it tested for rabies.

If anyone must handle a bat they should always wear gloves and if possible use tongs to pick it up. Never handle living or dead bats with bare hands.

Remove a bat

If there has been direct contact with a bat, it can be tested for rabies. Follow these steps:

- do not release the bat or force it out of the building;

- contain the bat by closing it in the room in which it was found; and

- to safely capture a live bat in the home, place a box, bucket or pail over the bat and slide a piece of heavy cardboard under the container to prevent the bat’s escape.

Making sure the bat can be tested is a good idea. If the bat is tested and does not have rabies, persons exposed to it will not be required to receive rabies shots.

If there has been no direct contact, the area with the bat should be closed off from the rest of the house. People and pets should be kept away from the area.

The doors or windows in the area with the bat should be opened to the exterior, allowing the bat to escape.

Contact a professional wildlife removal company for the humane removal of bats.

Locate and repair potential entrance points into the home.

Avoid contact with all stray or wild animals.

Bats need only a quarter of an inch to enter a space. Locate and repair any potential entrance points to bat-proof the home. Anyone needing help should contact an animal-control agency.

People can protect their pets from rabies by making sure rabies vaccinations are up to date.

For more information on what to do if finding a bat in the home visit www.wdgpublic health.ca, or speak with a public health inspector at 1-800-265-7293 extension 2673.

 

September 30, 2011

 
 

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