Bats are frequent guests this time of year in Johnson County homes and backyards as young bats born in the spring leave their nests and seek shelter in trees and houses. When this happens, bat bites increase, especially in the pet population. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) urges residents to vaccinate their pets for rabies and not to touch bats – living or dead -- with bare hands.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect your pets from rabies. Unvaccinated animals exposed to rabies are at risk for a deadly infection and may have to spend months in quarantine,” says Lougene Marsh, director of the department.
Bats play an important role in helping to keep the mosquito population under control, but can be tempting to pets that find a young, injured or dead bat outdoors or in a home. If your pet comes into contact with a bat (living or dead), call a pest company or your local animal control office (if your city offers bat removal service) to have the bat removed and tested for rabies. Then call a veterinarian to find out if your pet needs post-exposure treatment.
If a bat (living or dead) is found inside your home, and contact with it is unknown, it is still necessary to call a pest company or animal control to have it removed and tested. Bat bites can be difficult to detect on humans and pets. Call your healthcare provider or JCDHE and your veterinarian to discuss the need for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, even if the bat is not suitable for testing.
If you find a dead bat outside, and no people or pets have come into contact with it, wear gloves and dispose of it in a plastic bag in the trash.
More information about rabies exposure and animal bites can be found here or call JCDHE at 913-826-1303. Click here for a list of Animal Control Offices in Johnson County.
Common bats found in Kansas: http://www.wildlife.k-state.edu/species/bats/index.html