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Are Bats Dangerous To Humans, Cats, Or Dogs?

The short answer is "not usually". It's true that most cases of rabies transmission in the United States are due to bats. But it's also extremely rare. If you've had a bat in your house, no health professional is going to say "do nothing", because of liability risk in America, where doctors practice "cover thy ass" medicine. But the odds that the bat bit you are extremely low, and the odds that it had rabies and infected you are exceedingly low. That said, bats do carry a few other health risks, more from parasites and droppings than from biting bats.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service more than over fifty percent of the bat species are endangered, which is sad when you consider that bats are environmentally helpful in nature. The reason for such a decline is because their natural habitat has been compromised with the expansion of cities and people. Bats control the insect population by eating tons of them every night. Without bats our world would be overwhelmed with insects. They can eat over one thousand insects in an hour, including disease carrying varmints such as mosquitoes. The bats use a high frequency built in navigation system that can spot out insects immediately. This makes it extremely easy for these near blind creatures to fly and feed at the same time.

So What Is The Problem If They’re So Beneficial? - Bats become nuisances because their natural dwelling site, which is normally a cave has been moved or destroyed, forcing them to dwell in structures where people live. Caves are lost for several reasons, some natural others man-made. Building dams, ground water pollutants and setting trash on fire all harm a bat’s environment. Caves can be destroyed by mining operations, quarrying rock and tourism. The bats have adapted to their new environments, but people have not been tolerant of the changes.

Some Bats Do Have Rabies - It is true that some species of bats carry rabies as do many small animals, but the cases that humans were infected with rabies are so small in comparison to other transmitted diseases that it creates very little threat. There have only been forty-four deaths from rabies in the last fifty-five years. Of these deaths only one was from the common house bat found in the United States. Most of the others were contributed to a tree roosting species. If a person is bitten by a bat or any wild animal it is best to clean the area and seek medical attention. If a bat is found on the ground than it may have rabies and should be left alone.

Airborne Diseases And Bats - Bats are known to carry a soil fungus called Histoplasma casulatum that can be found in the bats feces called guano. When large amounts of guano are disturbed the spores become airborne which humans can inhale when entering a bat roost. This will cause a disease called Histoplasmois which is a disease of the lungs. The disease can cause flu like symptoms and has been misdiagnosed as tuberculosis. To confirm that it is this disease requires a blood and skin test. Fortunately most cases of infections reported are found in highly humid areas within caves. The importance of having professionals clear out guano cannot be stressed enough as they have the equipment and clothing to prevent any exposure to the fungus.

Discovering Bats In Your House - Most house sightings of bats occur in the fall and are usually just one or two of them looking for a place to hibernate for the winter or looking for a place to set up home. If you see bats several times towards the end of summer then it is like that there is a colony nearby. This is about the time that babies begin to become independent and fly off. If a bat does come into the house the best thing to do is to open the windows and doors and let it out. Bats do not attack humans; on the contrary they do everything they can to avoid conflict.

Are Repellants necessary? - Very rarely is there a reason to repel bats. By allowing the bats to leave an area and having the guano cleaned out, then sealing off any entry points you will have discouraged any further problems. To use any chemical repellant requires a federal permit, as these animals are protected. In short, bats do not actually attack a person, so they are not dangerous in this way. In addition, a rabid bat is a rare occurrence. If you see a bat on the ground it is most likely sick-do not pick it up. The main danger a bat poses is in the diseases its guano or droppings carry.

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