Illinois Health Department Warns: Never Touch Bats
A recent report from the DuPage County Health Department in Illinois, warns about the severity of rabies and it's carrier. This is the time of year when bats are most active. Bats are small, flying mammals, with most weighing less than an ounce. All Illinois bats eat insects and are active in the warmer months and roost to rest in trees, caves, under bridges, and in attics while raising their pups. As cool weather sets in, Illinois bats must either migrate to warmer areas or hibernate.
It's also important to remember that all Illinois bat species are protected.
That being said, bats may not be shot, trapped, transported, or held in confinement; except when a bat is found in an area where they may have contact with humans or domestic pets. Unfortunately, I'm sure we have all had some form of experience trying to rid a house of a bat, as they can accidentally enter a home through an open window, door, chimney, or gaps around pipes. When they become trapped in a home they often fly around spastically looking for an exit.
If a bat enters your living or working area it will need to be captured. Firstly, try to confine the bat to a single room. You can also trap the bat in a box and slide cardboard underneath it or capture it in a blanket.
Wear leather gloves when handling the bat and avoid bare hand/skin contact. Those of you uncomfortable with bats in general can contact the city or county animal control to assist. Do not release the bat until you have spoken to the local health department about your exposure and the bats condition as it may have a disease.
Hopefully your attempts to remove the bat don't end up like this...
If the bat does indeed have a disease it could be rabies or histoplasmosis.
Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that causes encephalitis or brain inflammation in humans and animals. People are usually exposed to rabies when an infected animal, such as a bat, bites them. Exposure may occur if the animal's saliva enters an open cut or the mucous membrane of the nose, mouth, and eyes. Good news for the people freaking out; the last human case of rabies in Illinois was reported in 1954.
Histoplasmosis: Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by the fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum. The majority of people infected have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they vary widely, depending on the form of disease. This fungus is most commonly found in bat droppings, and in soil enriched by bird or bat droppings. In people, this uncommon disease affects the lungs, and may occasionally invade other parts of the body. Anyone can get histoplasmosis, but the most severe cases are generally seen in immunosuppressed individuals.
Other Concerns: Parasites associated with bats, like fleas, lice, mites, and bat bugs can infest them. Some of these parasites themselves can transmit diseases to humans. If the host animals die or leave their roosts, parasites will look for alternate hosts. In this instance, they may bite people and domesticated animals/pets. However, most parasites cannot survive away from their preferred hosts.
The goal is always to exclude bats from your living and work spaces and to be bat aware when entering caves, or areas where a group might roost. Bat exclusion can be done in several ways by the home or business owner or hired professionals. As always, for immediate assistance in removing a bat or infestation, please contact your city or county area animal control. For assistance in determining bat exposure, and your next steps, always contact your city or county local health department. Illinois residents can find more information here.
You can find these bats all around like a couple of the places below...