Bat Season is Here: Protect yourself and pets
April 23, 2009
Bat season has arrived a little early in El Dorado County, with several exposures to humans already reported to Animal Services.
El Dorado County Animal Services is hoping to raise awareness about the expected increase in numbers of bats during bat season, which typically occurs during the months of May through August, and wants to advise residents of steps they can take to reduce exposure.
“While bats are beneficial in controlling mosquitoes and other pests, they are also primary carriers of the rabies virus, so it is important to avoid contact with them,” said Linda Haller, chief animal services officer. “Every year, we hear of a child who picks up a sick or injured bat or a resident who finds a bat in their home. These are causes for concern because of the potential for exposure to the rabies virus.”
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People and animals get the virus from the bite of a rabid animal or contact with saliva from such an animal. People exposed to a rabid animal typically must have a series of rabies vaccines administered very soon after the exposure. Once symptoms begin, without treatment, rabies is almost always fatal.
“Although our natural instinct is to help a sick or injured animal, it is best to report the animal to Animal Services instead,” said Haller.
“If a bat flies into your home, try to isolate the bat into one room and then open a window or door so that it can fly out,” advised Haller. “Do not touch the bat, and keep children and pets away from the bat. If you wake up to a bat in your bedroom, contact Animal Services.”
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Other tips to avoid exposure to bats and other wild animals that could carry rabies include the following:
n Make sure pets and livestock are up to date on their rabies vaccines.
n Avoid contact with any unknown animal or wildlife. Do not touch dead or injured wild animals.
n Feed pets indoors to avoid attracting wild animals. Do not leave pet food outdoors.
n Bat-proof your home.
n Teach children not to pick up injured or sick animals and to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched.
n Report animal bites to Animals Services.
n Report strays, animals that behave oddly or bats that are found indoors to Animal Services for assistance in capturing the animals. Many local pest control companies can also assist with capture of bats.
For more information regarding rabies prevention, including information about bat-proofing the home, please visit Animal Services’ Web site at http://www.edcgov.us/animalservices.
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