Public health officials offer safety reminders regarding bats - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Public health officials offer safety reminders regarding bats

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MADISON (WKOW) -
Public Health Madison & Dane County is reminding people in the area that late summer is when unwanted visits from become a bigger problem, because the young bats born in the spring are now old enough to take to the air in search of food and new places to live.

Bats are the main carriers of rabies in Wisconsin.  Even though a very small percentage of bats actually carry rabies, the disease is fatal if left untreated.

This summer, Public Health Madison & Dane County's Animal Services operation has collected and submitted 120 bats to the State Lab of Hygiene for analysis. Three have tested positive for rabies.  Columbia County has had five positive tests, and there have been 23 positive rabies tests statewide in 2012.

Dogs and cats like to catch bats during the night, so important to make sure that your pets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. Even inside cats should be vaccinated, in case bats find their way inside your home. It is also very important to not dispose of bats found in your home, so they can be tested for rabies. If your pet has contact with a bat, you should call Animal Services at (608) 267-1989.
 
Another concern is bats finding their way into your home and biting or exposing a sleeping person.  Bat bites are small and a sleeping person may not notice them. If this happens, again, do not dispose of the bat or shoo it out of your home.
 
Without the bat, the medical presumption is that you have been exposed to rabies, which requires a series of shots.
 
Health officials say you should try to catch and confine the bat, while trying to avoid being bitten.  The most common method of capture is to wait until the bat lands on a wall or other surface, place an empty cottage cheese or other container over it, slide the cover under and secure.  Some people use a broom or tennis racket to knock the bat out of the air and then capture it. 
 
It is very important that you not damage the bat's head, as the brain needs to be intact for proper rabies testing.
 
Once you have secured the bat, call Police and Fire Dispatch at (608) 266-4673.  They will send out an Animal Services Officer to collect the bat and submit it for rabies testing at the State Lab of Hygiene.  Public Health communicates the test results to the exposed person and provides care recommendations based on test results.
 
Animal Services is on duty 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.   If a bat is found or captured during the nighttime hours, we recommend that the bat be kept refrigerated until Animal Services can pick it up. Heat and time break down the brain tissue needed for testing.

Health officials say bats are a vital part of our natural ecosystem.  One nursing mother bat can eat more than her own body weight´s worth of insects every night – which can be as much as 4,500 bugs, including mosquitoes.

More information can be found at:
 

 

 

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