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Rabies Alert: Catch the Bat!

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Rabies Alert: Catch the Bat!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

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. During the hot summer months, bats seek cooler locations on the lower floors of homes. This results in more accidental contacts with bats than at other times of the year.

There has been one confirmed rabid bat in Tompkins County in 2017. 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 a bat is found in a public area, near a pet, a child, a sleeping person, or someone with a sensory impairment, or you are not sure if contact occurred, 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.

A short video on the proper technique for safely capturing a bat is available on the Tompkins County Health Department website at:  

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