During the height of summer and mosquito season, bats flying through the night sky are typically a welcome sight. But when bats venture indoors, it may be a different story. According to wildlife experts, May 1 through July 31 is the time of year for bats to care for their newborn pups in maternity colonies and it is very common for the animals to roost in attics and crawl spaces. While the insect-eating mammals are very important to maintaining ecosystems worldwide, they also can transmit rabies and other disease to humans.
- If you awaken to find a bat in your room, tent or cabin, do not release it. Instead, safely confine the bat to the room or tent, be sure all people and pets vacate and contact your local animal control to have it captured and tested for rabies.
- Seek medical advice immediately. Bat bites can be difficult to detect and may not cause a person to wake from a sound sleep. If you have had any contact at all with a bat, even if you do not think you have been bitten, you must still talk with a physician. You may have been exposed to rabies.
- If you know you have been bitten, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water before seeing a doctor.
- Never handle a bat with your bare hands. If you need to capture it before animal control arrives, follow safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). See a video demonstration.
- If bat or bird droppings have accumulated in an attic for example, care should be taken to avoid stirring up and breathing the dust. Fungal spores in the droppings may cause disease when inhaled by some people. Contact your local health department or an industrial hygienist for guidance on cleaning up bat droppings, or guano.