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Stay Bat Safe!

Stay Bat Safe!

July 28, 2022

From camping trips and smores to pool parties and popsicles, some things just go hand-in-hand when it comes to summer. However, it's not just warm weather we should expect this season. We can also expect to see more sightings of bats as the weather warms up and they come out of hibernation.

While bats can be beneficial to people and the environment by feeding on night-flying insects such as mosquitos and pollinating plants and trees, they can also carry a harmful disease called rabies. Knowing how to stay safe if you see a bat or come in contact with one is important for preventing illness and keeping yourself and others safe.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that spreads from the saliva of an infected animal and affects a person's central nervous system. It’s important to seek medical attention right away if you think you or someone else has encountered a bat, as rabies can affect a person’s brain, spinal cord, and nerves and lead to death if left untreated. It can also affect the brain of animals such as dogs and cats.

Remember that not all bats are infected with rabies, but rabid bats have been found in almost every county in Washington State, including Spokane, and are the primary carriers of rabies in the Northwest. While rabies cases concerning people and pets are extremely low, it doesn't mean we shouldn't consider ways to stay safe! Keep these tips in mind for enjoying a safe summer.

​How Do I Keep Myself and Others Safe from Rabies?

The best way for people to reduce their risk of rabies is to avoid close contact with bats. Remind yourself and others to never touch wild animals, such as bats, and teach children to avoid contact with them, too, even if the bat is dead. If you plan to be outside in the evening or enter structures frequented by bats, cover up with a head covering and clothing.

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you or somebody you know has had contact with a bat or if a bat has been found in the room with:

· An unattended child

· A person who is sleeping

· A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol

· A person who may have physical difficulty knowing or explaining that they have been in contact with a bat

Bats have small teeth and claws, so it can be hard to tell if you've been bitten or scratched. That's why it's important to seek medical if you think you or someone has come in contact with one. Learn more at: BatSmart-People1.pdf (srhd.org)

How Can I Keep My Pets Safe?

Pets are more likely to come in contact with bats, so finding ways to prevent pets from touching, handling, or bringing bats inside the house is important— for you and your pet! Consider these tips:

  • Make sure pets such as dogs, cats, and ferrets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations— it's the law in Washington State.
  • Bring pets indoors at night when bats are more likely to be out.
  • Close pet doors to prevent pets from going out at night and encountering bats or bringing one inside your home.

Learn more at: BatSmart-Pets1.pdf (srhd.org)

How Can I Protect My Home?

Protecting your home from bats can reduce the risk of people and pets from encountering one. Here are a few tips to help bat-proof your home:

  • Keep windows and doors without a screen closed.
  • Close the damper on your chimney.
  • Fill holes around your home where pipes and wires create an entrance through the siding.
  • Keep a porch light on or hang Mylar balloons to keep bats from roosting near your home.

If a bat does enter your home, contact Spokane Regional Health District at 509-324-1560, ext. 7, to determine if the bat needs to be caught and tested for rabies. Remember to never handle wild animals, such as bats, with bare hands.

Wear leather or thick rubber work gloves if you need to handle or pick up a bat for testing purposes. For more information on how to safely handle bats, visit: BatSmart-Home1.pdf (srhd.org)

Stay Bat Safe!

Staying bat safe is important for keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your pets safe. We know spending time outdoors is one of the best parts of summer, but don't forget to take a few precautions to avoid contact with bats and prevent the spread of rabies. For more information, visit: Bats & Rabies | SRHD