May 24, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
A bat recently captured in a home in the village of Skaneateles has tested positive for rabies, and although no people were infected and the pets were up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, village residents are urged to be aware and careful of these nocturnal creatures getting in their houses.
“Where there’s one there’s others,” said Melanie Hensley, veterinary technician at Nichols Veterinary Hospital in Skaneateles, where the bat was first reported. “The main thing is that people be aware of bats. Bats get into houses. If there’s absolutely no chance of exposure and you get the bat out of the house, that’s fine, but if there’s sleeping people in the house or pets and you don’t know if any bites have occurred, that bat must be tested.”
In this case, the homeowners came home and found the bat, which probably got in through an open window, so the people were safe from possible exposure. The owners’ cats, however, has been alone in the house with the bat. The cats were current on their rabies vaccinations so they just needed a booster shot within five days, Hensley said.
“Pets need to be up-to-date on their rabies shots — that is very serious for them,” she said.
Skaneateles Animal Control Officer Matt Olszewski said he typically gets only a half-dozen calls a year about a bat inside someone’s house.
“They only need an opening the size of a nickel or dime to get in. They’re only the size of a mouse; they’re not very big. They live in attics, it’s not uncommon,” Olszewski said.
His first advice to people with a bat in their house, if it has not been in contact with any person or pet, is to isolate it in a room if possible and open a window. “They don’t want to be in your house, they want to be outside eating bugs,” he said.
Residents should “definitely be concerned” about a positive case of rabies in a bat, although they should not panic about it. If you find a bat in your house and are unsure of contact with pets or sleeping humans, don’t dispose of it but keep it in case it needs to be tested for rabies. “Call me or the county animal disease control,” Olszewski said.
Did you know:
—Bats are most active between the months of May and August. Bat-proof your home before these months.
—Bats with rabies might not look sick.
To bat-proof your house:
—Look for holes in common entry places like the garage, attic, and basement.
—Plug up any holes in the house with steel wool.
—Repair window screen holes with wire mesh.
—Caulk any other openings or cracks.
If there is a bat in your house:
—It is important that all bats that come into direct contact with people get tested.
—Before trapping the bat, protect yourself with gloves and a hat.
—Keep the bat inside, do not let it escape outdoors. Shut the door of the room to keep the bat isolated. Turn on the lights to slow the bat down. Collect the bat in a container with a secure lid. Call Animal Disease Control at 435-3165 for further instruction.
—If you cannot trap the bat, call animal control.
If someone gets bitten by a bat:
Clean and seek care:
—Wash the area where the bite occurred with soap and water.
—See your health care provider immediately.
Protect your pets:
—Prevent pets from contracting rabies by keeping their rabies shots up-to-date.
For more information call Onondaga County Animal Disease Control at 435-3165 or visit ongov.net/health.
To see a video of how to safely catch a bat in your home, visit ongov.net/health/ADP.html.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.