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

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Aug. 11, 2006

Find a Bat in Your Home? Here's What to Do

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, said Oswego County Public Health Director Kathleen Smith. She advises people to try to avoid any contact with bats, especially one that is outdoors during daylight, on the ground, or appears to be paralyzed.

“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.”

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 8, said Smith, 21 people in Oswego County needed post-exposure rabies shots as a result of possible contact with rabid animals. Seven animals, including a skunk in the City of Oswego, two foxes in Mexico and Granby, two raccoons in Williamstown and Palermo, and two bats in Volney and Fulton have tested positive for rabies.

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.

“Our staff is available around the clock to respond to incidents that involve possible exposure to a rabid animal,” said Smith. “If we determine that the animal needs to be tested, we will make arrangements to send it to the state Health Department laboratory near Albany.”

The health department staff is available weekdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., by calling 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564. After 4 p.m. on weekdays, and during weekends and holidays, people with urgent inquiries should call the health department’s on-call service at 341-0086.

If you find a bat in your 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.
  • Notify the county Health Department immediately. The staff will determine 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 county Health Department.

To avoid unnecessary rabies treatments, all potentially rabid animals that may have exposed someone should be confined or tested for rabies.

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