ITHACA, N.Y. — The Tompkins County Health Department urges residents to avoid the risk of rabies and rabies treatment by capturing and submitting for laboratory testing any bat found in their home that may have come in contact with humans or pets. August is the time when juvenile bats begin to leave the nest and become independent, often losing their way to or from the nest when hunting for food. Attics and crawl spaces heat up in the summer months and bats seek cooler locations on the lower floors of the home. This results in more accidental contacts than at other times of the year.
There has been one confirmed rabid bat in Tompkins County in 2019. Rabies is largely transmitted through bites from rabid animals. Bats present an additional concern, because in certain situations a bite may not be readily apparent. This includes bats that are found in a room with a sleeping person or bats that are found in the presence of an unattended child or a person with a sensory impairment, or if the bat comes in contact with bare skin. Bats that have contact with pets that are lapsed or unvaccinated against rabies also present a concern.
If the bat is found in a public area, near a pet, a child, a sleeping person, someone with a sensory impairment, or comes in contact with bare skin, capture the bat without touching it. If indoors, close windows, room and closet doors, turn on lights, and wait for the bat to land. While wearing heavy gloves, cover the bat with a pail, 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. Immediately call the Tompkins County Health Department at (607) 274-6688 to determine whether testing of the bat is necessary, or whether the bat can be safely released. In the event that the bat cannot be captured, contact the Health Department to determine whether Rabies Post Exposure treatment is necessary.
An 80-second video on the proper technique for safely capturing a bat found in one’s home is available on the New York State Department of Health website at www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/.
Further information can be found at www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health/eh/neighborhood/rabiesfacts.