BATH – As warm weather approaches, the Steuben County Public Health Department urges residents to follow state Department of Health guidelines in the event they or their pets come into possible contact with a bat in an enclosed area.
Bats can carry rabies, a fatal disease for both humans and animals. The guidelines on how to capture a bat are in place to determine whether the bat is rabid, and whether medical treatment for the individual or pet is required.
Possible contact includes a bite, scratch, saliva entering the eyes, nose, mouth or open cuts on people or pets. The guidelines also apply if a bat is found in a room with a pet, an unattended child, sleeping person, or a person with sensory or mental impairment.
"Bats have extremely small teeth, and a bite may not be as readily noticed, as it would be with other animals," said county Public Health Education Coordinator Lorelei Wagner. "Especially for those who are sleeping or impaired."
To Capture a Bat:
1. Close all windows and doors of the room the bat is in and turn on the lights if the room is dark.
2. Wait for the bat to land on a surface.
3. Wearing thick, preferably leather, gloves, cover the bat with a coffee can or
similar container that has a lid.
4. Slide a piece of cardboard under the overturned can, trapping the bat in the can.
5. With one hand firmly holding the cardboard in place against the opening of the can, turn the can right side up with the bat inside.
6. Replace the cardboard with the lid. If no lid is present, tape the cardboard tightly to the can.
7. Immediately contact Steuben Public Health at (607) 664-2438 during business hours or (800) 836-4444 after hours to determine the next steps.
If there is no possibility of human or animal contact with the bat, the bat does not need to be captured, according to public health officials. To allow a bat to leave an enclosed area, close the room and closet doors, open the windows, turn on a light, and watch the bat until it leaves. Do not attempt to chase the bat out of the area. Be sure to close the windows after the bat has left. While rabies is a rare disease, its impact on humans and animals can be devastating. For more information on rabies, go to http://www.cdc.gov/rabies.