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Madison County health officials give steps to take when bats enter homes

Posted 6/3/22

Madison County residents that have found a bat in their home and are concerned about rabies can look to the following tips to catch a bat for rabies testing.

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Madison County health officials give steps to take when bats enter homes

Posted

WAMPSVILLE — Madison County residents that have found a bat in their home and are concerned about rabies can look to the following tips to catch a bat for rabies testing:

-Find a small container like a box or a large can, and a piece of cardboard large enough to cover the opening in the container. Punch small air holes in the cardboard.

-Put on leather work gloves.

-Confine the bat in a room. When the bat lands, approach it slowly and place the container over it. Slide the cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.

-If you are certain there’s been no contact between the bat and any people or pets, carefully hold the cardboard over the container and take the bat outdoors and release it away from people and pets.

-If there’s any question about contact between the bat and people or pets, you want to save the bat for testing. Tape the cardboard to the container, securing the bat inside.

-Rabies exposure is medically urgent but not an emergency. If after-hours, contact the Madison County Health Department the next day to discuss the situation. Only your county health department may authorize testing and treatment for rabies.

In New York State, only about 3% of bats have rabies; however, treatment for rabies exposures is highest for situations involving uncaptured bats. On average, a savings of $3,000 to $6,000 per person or more may be saved for each exposure when an animal that was available for testing is negative for rabies, avoiding unnecessary treatment.

If it is certain a bat did not bite or scratch a family member, testing may not be necessary. But if there is any concern that a child, elderly individual, or other person may have had possible contact with the bat, it is always best to capture the bat rather than letting it go, and contacting your county Health Department.

Test results are typically available in a few days. When a positive rabies result is detected, an individual begins post-exposure treatment soon after. If left untreated, a bite or scratch from a rabies-infected animal would be fatal to the person exposed. You cannot get rabies from having contact with an animals stool, blood, or urine.

The rabies virus can spread to a person when an animal bite breaks skin.

Follow these tips to avoid rabies exposures:

Keep your pets current on their rabies vaccinations, including indoor house cats that may catch a bat in your home. Schedule your pet's rabies shot at the June 15 Madison County Health Department clinic.

Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Remember if you encounter a bat in your home, catch the bat and contact the Madison County Health Department at 315-366-2526.

To learn more, view the video “Catch the Bat Safely” or visit the Madison County Health Department website at www.healthymadisoncounty.org

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