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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

Rabies - Bats & Rabies

 

Bat Ecology

Bats are nocturnal animals and feed most actively two to three hours following sunset. They are efficient pest controllers as they consume three times their body weight in insects per night. Bats select attics for nursery colonies, however, during the day they roost in trees and in buildings. Bats are usually born in June. Nests are not required as the young are able to fly and obtain their own food within three weeks. Hibernation occurs between November and March. Some species typically hibernate in attics of buildings while others prefer caves.





Diseases Bats May Carry


Although bats are beneficial they do have the potential to carry diseases such as rabies and histoplasmosis, which can affect humans and animals. They may also transmit distemper and mange to household pets. The mandatory rabies vaccination protects your pets from rabies.

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. It is found in the saliva of infected animals and is transmitted through a bite or by direct contact between infected saliva and the eyes, nose, mouth or into an open wound or scratch. Bat's teeth are tiny and razor sharp and thus bite marks may not be noticeable. Rabies is fatal if left untreated.

The most common signs of rabies in a bat are the inability to fly and resting in unusual places such as the ground. Rabies can only be confirmed through a laboratory test.

Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus that grows in soil contaminated with bat or bird droppings. Exposure to the fungus occurs when the soil is disturbed. The disease primarily affects the lungs and can be fatal if left untreated. If you are cleaning areas where bat droppings have accumulated be sure to wear a protective mask and gloves and keep dust to a minimum.





Bat Encounters

When you are bitten by a bat or if saliva from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth or a wound, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical attention immediately. If the bat can be captured without further exposure, the health unit can arrange for it to be tested for rabies.

If you find a bat in your home and are absolutely sure that there was no human or animal contact, the bat can be released to the outdoors. If you are handling the bat, be sure to wear gloves and other protective clothing at all times.





Bat Proofing Your Home

Bat proofing your house is necessary when the bats are entering the living space of your home. It is advisable to contact a pest management company or a wildlife conservation agency for assistance with bat-proofing your home.

 

For more information about keeping bats out of your home please refer to the following information:




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