Bats, while commonly associated with all things dark and creepy, are actually helpful animals that eat nuisance insects like mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. However, bats can also carry rabies, a dangerous disease that in many cases is deadly without proper and immediate treatment.
How Many Bats Have Rabies?
Although bats are known to carry rabies, the number of bats actually confirmed to have the disease is quite low. The CDC estimates that approximately 6% of bats submitted for testing are positive for rabies. It is impossible to tell whether a bat has rabies or not simply by looking at it. Laboratory testing must be done to confirm if it carries the disease. Typically, bats that are tested are those who have been injured and caught.
Can Humans Contract Rabies from Bats?
It’s not common for humans to contract rabies, but 17 out of the 19 human rabies cases reported between 1997-2006 were determined to be caused by bats. Fourteen of those individuals had contact with a bat but not all reported being bitten. Rabies can also be transmitted by contact with the saliva or body tissues of an infected bat. If you have contact with a bat and you cannot bring it in for testing, you should always assume that the bat has rabies and seek prompt treatment.
What Is Rabies?
Rabies is a virus that primarily attacks the body’s central nervous system. Humans can treat rabies with a series of injections that can be painful. This is done in cases where it is confirmed that the animal that bit or scratched someone has rabies, or in cases where the animal’s rabies status is unknown and cannot be confirmed.
Rabies symptoms begin to develop in four to six weeks after initial exposure, and can include a fever and muscle weakness. Advanced symptoms of rabies include agitation and confusion, insomnia, hallucinations, and eventually, death. Once the advanced symptoms of rabies begin to manifest, the disease has become untreatable, making immediate medical care of the utmost importance.
How to Keep Bats Out of Your Home
Bats are only helpful to humans when they are outside in their natural habitat, reducing the insect population around homes. However, once they get inside a home, they become a pest that needs to be removed. Bats can enter homes when looking for shelter, either due to inclement weather or because they are injured or ill. It is not uncommon for bats to take up residence in attics that are warm and dry, leaving at night to fly and returning in the morning to sleep. In addition to the risk of disease presented by bats, having them in your home can cause destruction to your property.
The best way to keep bats out of your home and reduce the risk of contracting bat-related rabies is to take preventative measures to ensure that none get in. Examine your home, particularly the attic area if you have one, for holes any larger than a quarter inch. Cover any openings that you find with caulk, and be sure to use window screens without holes and chimney caps if you have a chimney. Attic doors should be sealed tight so bats that do make it into your attic cannot migrate to the inside of your home. A draft guard at the bottom of the door is easy to install and very effective. The best time to take precautions to keep bats out of your house is in the fall and winter, when some bats leave to hibernate. If you bat-proof your home in the spring and summer, you risk trapping young bats that cannot fly inside your home, where they will die.
Do You Already Have Bats in Your Home?
If you suspect that you may have bats in your home already, take a look around for some of the telltale signs, including:
- Bats that fly around the outside of your home in the early evening at dusk, or early in the morning
- Mouse-like droppings that are black and crumbly in your attic or in other places in your home where bats may roost
- Sounds of bats squeaking or chirping during the day, especially on warm days when your attic or other parts of your home may be hot
If you have bats in your home, it’s important to have them removed as soon as possible to reduce the risk of contracting bat-related rabies and minimizing the damage done to your home.
When to Call a Professional
According to information published by the CDC on bats and rabies, the highest risk of contracting rabies from a bat comes when you attempt to remove a bat from your home. If you believe that you may have one or more bats roosting in your house, don’t attempt to catch and remove them on your own. Instead, call an experienced pest control professional like Colonial Pest.
At Colonial Pest, we use safe and humane techniques to remove bats from the home, and we can also help you identify entry points to prevent bats from coming back. Contact us today to learn more about bats, rabies, and how to remove and prevent bats from making your home their home at 1-800-525-8084.