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Rabid bat caught in village

Residents urged to be aware of bats in house, near pets

— 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.

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