Douglas County Bat Watch Begins

By: sixonline Email
By: sixonline Email

Bat Facts:

·         Avoid wild animals, especially bats, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. Avoid any animal – wild, farm, or pet – that you do not know.

·         Lab tests are needed to confirm if a bat has rabies. If you are bitten by a bat or exposed to bat saliva, call your doctor immediately and wash the wound.  Then call the Humane Society or Health Department.

·         If you have to catch a bat by yourself, wear gloves and use a piece of cardboard to put the bat into a bag or coffee can, then call the Humane Society. The best thing to do is to isolate the bat in a room and let trained staff from the Nebraska Humane Society capture it.

·         Do not release a captured bat or do unnecessary damage to a bat if you kill the animal, because the head is needed for rabies testing.

·         Remember, rabies is virtually always fatal without prompt treatment following exposure, however it is 100 percent preventable with proper medical care.

The bat population in Douglas County appears to be plentiful, and that can be troublesome for the human population. This is the time of year when bats are likely to seek shelter in houses while trying to find warmth from the cooler nights.

Because bats can carry rabies – a fatal disease - the Douglas County Health Department and the Nebraska Humane Society are asking residents to protect themselves from these evening invaders.

The first step is to educate the public to avoid exposure, and make sure proper treatment follows if someone is bitten.

“We are getting several calls a day from the public about potential bat exposures,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “Our biggest fear is that you can be bitten while you are sleeping and not realize you have been infected, since bat bites may not leave an obvious mark.”

The best thing to do is keep bats out of your home. You can “bat-proof” your home by closing any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. To do this, you can caulk the opening or use window screens, chimney caps or stainless steel wool. Outside entry points are especially important to cover. Keep doors to the outside tightly closed.

In the coming weeks as the weather cools, bats will try to move into homes. Just this past week, the Nebraska Humane Society fielded more than 100 calls about bats, according to Vice President of Field Operations Mark Langan.

“If you find a bat in your home, isolate that bat in a room and call the Nebraska Humane Society right away at 444-7800, Ext 1.

“If you have been bitten or exposed to saliva, call your doctor,” Langan said. “We are concerned that some people may be exposed while they are asleep and not know about it.”

Facts about bats and rabies:

· Avoid wild animals, especially bats, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. Avoid any animal – wild, farm, or pet – that you do not know.

· Lab tests are needed to confirm if a bat has rabies. If you are bitten by a bat or exposed to bat saliva, call your doctor immediately and wash the wound. Then call the Humane Society or Health Department.

· If you have to catch a bat by yourself, wear gloves and use a piece of cardboard to put the bat into a bag or coffee can, then call the Humane Society. The best thing to do is to isolate the bat in a room and let trained staff from the Nebraska Humane Society capture it.

· Do not release a captured bat or do unnecessary damage to a bat if you kill the animal, because the head is needed for rabies testing.

· Remember, rabies is virtually always fatal without prompt treatment following exposure, however it is 100 percent preventable with proper medical care.

If you have questions about bats, call the Douglas County Health Department at 402-444-7489 or The Nebraska Humane Society at 402-444-7800, ext. 1. For more information on bats and how to protect yourself from their bites, just go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Web site at www.cdc.gov and enter bats in the search box.


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