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KCHD: Urges Caution If You Find A Bat In Your Home

Kent County Health Department

Within the past week, the Kent County Health Department has started to receive reports from people who have had contact with bats indoors.  While these types of encounters are not uncommon in August, any direct contact with a bat represents a potential exposure to rabies. The Kent County Health Department wanted to get the word out about what to do if you find a bat in your home.

“Bats seem to start roosting in people’s home this time of year… So there’s more reports that we get from people who say they’ve found a bat in their house.”

That’s Epidemiologist, Brian Hartl, with the Kent County Health Department.  He says they’ve been getting plenty of calls regarding bats, in fact, he says in just one afternoon last week, they received at least 8 calls.  If there is a bat in your house and you think someone may have been bitten, there are certain steps you need to take.

“In those situations, we just want people to keep the bats, because that’s most important for us because we’re able to test the bats the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to see if they are infected with rabies or not.”

Hartl says in most cases people know if they have been bitten by a bat… and if so, you should seek medical attention.  But, in some cases, like if someone is sleeping, or there’s an unattended child, or someone is intoxicated and there was bat in the room…

“That’s when we don’t know if a bite from the bat may have occurred. In those instances as well we’d want people to safely capture the bat and bring it in the health department for testing because all those situations are considered to be high risk potential for rabies exposure.”

So in either case, you need to bring in the bat for testing.  Experts say to safely capture a bat, you should wear leather gloves to avoid being bit.  Place a box or a coffee can over the bat and slide a piece a cardboard underneath to trap it.  Secure it with tape and call the Kent County Health Department.  Hartl says if you don’t get the bat, you may have to undergo rabies post exposure treatment, which is a series of at least five shots.

Health experts say unless you are certain no one has been bitten by a bat you find in your home, don’t let it go.  Hartl says call the Kent County Health Department at 616 632-7200, for assistance.