Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

[Public Information Main Menu] [Oswego County Homepage]

Aug. 11, 2004

Health Department Offers Advice to People Who Find Bats in their Homes

The Oswego County Health Department has received several reports from people who have found bats in and around their homes over the past few weeks. Bats are a common carrier of rabies, and people should try to avoid any contact with bats, especially one that is outdoors during daylight, on the ground, or appears to be paralyzed.

Bats rarely attack humans, but any physical contact with a rabid bat may transmit rabies. In some situations, such as when a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, or next to an unattended young child or pet, a bat bite may not be detected.

"The staff of the Oswego County Health Department are available around the clock to respond to answer residents' questions about rabies," said Health Commissioner Kathleen Smith.

Routine inquiries and requests for information can be obtained by calling 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564, during business hours. Evenings, weekends or holidays, people with urgent inquiries can call the health department's on-call service at 341-0086.

"If a person or pet has any physical contact with a bat, or if you're not sure whether contact occurred, precautions need to be taken immediately," said Smith. "If the bat isn't captured, or if it tests positive for rabies, any person, cat, dog or pet ferret that may have been exposed must receive rabies shots as soon as possible."

The county health department advises people to take these steps if they find a bat in their home:

  • Capture the bat without touching it with your bare hands. If you're indoors, close windows, room and closet doors, turn on lights, and wait for the bat to land. Wearing heavy gloves, cover the bat with a pail, large coffee can, or similar container.
  • If you spot a grounded bat outdoors, you can prevent further contact with people and pets by covering it with a pail or similar container.
  • The Oswego County Health Department should be notified immediately. The health department staff will answer questions and advise people if the bat needs to be tested.
  • If you are bitten, scratched or have contact with an animal you believe to be rabid, immediately wash the wound with soap and water, seek medical attention and report the incident to the Oswego County health department.
  • To avoid unnecessary rabies treatments, all potentially rabid animals that may have exposed someone should be confined and observed or tested for rabies.

Questions about the Oswego County Public Information Office?