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Pests & Zoonotic Diseases





Bats in Utah

There are 18 species of bats found in Utah. The most common species that Utah residents encounter are those that use buildings to perch (roost) such as the big brown bat, the little brown bat, the hoary bat, and the free-tailed bat. Although bats are sometimes considered pests, they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to control insect populations.

Diseases from Bats

Bats do not commonly attack or bite humans, but precautions should be taken around bats because they can transmit both rabies and histoplasmosis. In Utah, most human rabies cases result from contact with an infected bat. Although the disease is rare, it is almost always fatal. Therefore, bats should NEVER be touched by untrained individuals. Histoplasmosis is a respiratory infection caused by fungus spores in soils that contain large amounts of bird or bat feces. Histoplasmosis is common in the central and eastern United States, but is rarely found in Utah’s dry climate.

How to Tell if an Animal is Rabid

It can be difficult to tell if an animal is rabid, especially among bats, which are the most likely source of exposure in Utah. If you encounter bats in your home or stray animals in your neighborhood, call animal control to remove these animals since they may be unvaccinated or ill.

While traveling outside of the United States, avoid contact with stray animals, even if they do not seem rabid. If you are bitten by an animal while traveling, seek prompt medical care.

What to Do if There is a Bat or Another Possibly Rabid Animal in Your House

Davis County Animal Control should be notified immediately at 801-444-2200.  In most cases the animal control officer will remove the animal.  This is considered an emergency.  After hours call 911.

  • If a bat is found inside one’s house after sleeping or with any young children not under surveillance when the bat entered, it should always be treated as an exposure.
  • The bat should be captured and tested for rabies.
  • The bat should be stored on ice or under refrigeration, not in a freezer.

All calls concerning human illness due to possible rabies should be transferred to the Davis County Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Division’s on call telephone number, 801-525-5200.

Bat Bites

If a person is bitten by a bat, seek medical care immediately. Wash the bite with soap and water, notify your doctor, and the Communicable Disease & Epidemiology Bureau of the Davis County Health Department. Davis County Animal Care & Control should also be contacted to capture the bat for rabies testing, if possible.

Pets and Bats

Often pets are found playing with bats and it is unknown if the bat has bitten the pet or if the pet has bit the bat. In this case, the bat should also be captured for rabies testing, if possible. Notify Davis County Animal Care & Control at 801-444-2200 (after business hours call 801-451-4150). To avoid complications, ensure your pet stays current with its rabies vaccination.

What to Do If You Believe You Were Exposed to a Rabid Animal or Bat

If you are concerned you or a family member was exposed to a potentially rabid animal, please call the Davis County Epidemiology and Communicable Disease Bureau at 801-525-5200.

Getting Rid of Bats

In Utah, it is illegal to intentionally kill bats. All species of bats are protected and some species are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. All efforts to prevent bats from roosting or colonizing on structures should happen in the fall season after bats have had their babies and begin migrating to a winter location.

The following actions may be taken to discourage bats from coming back to your home or business:

  • Cool attics with fans to make it uncomfortable for bats to reside in the space.
  • Keep areas well-lit.
  • Seal any cracks larger than ¼” in the roof or siding of your home with caulking, hardware cloth, foam rubber, foam sealant, or similar materials.
    • When you are ready to seal any openings, you must be sure all bats have left the space. Bird netting can be placed over the openings, attached on the top and the sides, with the base open. Any remaining bats will be able to drop down the netting to leave, but will not be able to re-enter. Leave the netting in place for four to five days and then seal the openings.
  • Prepare an alternate roost site. You can provide the bats an alternative place to go by building a bat box and attaching it to a tree or structure 12-15 feet off the ground and out of direct sunlight.

Health Department Assistance With Bats

In most cases, Davis County Health Department only gets involved with bat complaints when someone has had contact with a bat, a bat is found inside their home, or they observe their pet playing with a bat. In these cases the primary concern is the possible exposure to rabies. If possible, the bat should be captured and tested for rabies. Testing of the bat for rabies is coordinated through the Davis County Animal Care & Control and the Communicable Disease and Epidemiology Bureau will follow-up in cases where treatment may be warranted.

Davis County Health Department is limited in its capacity to deal with complaints regarding bats roosting on or near a home or business. In most cases, the health department is only able to educate the complainant about the precautions they can take and possible remediation.

The only regulatory action Davis County Health Department may take on complaints regarding bat roosting or colonies is if the problem is determined by a Davis County Health Department representative as being a public health nuisance. This typically only occurs when there is an excessive amount of bat feces (guano) in a public location. In this case, Davis County Health Department may issue a Notice to the property owner with a timetable to remediate conditions that are favorable to the bats. This timeline must coincide with the natural migrations of the bats as they are still protected under Federal and State laws.




Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are blood-feeding insects found throughout the world, including all 50 states. They commonly feast on the blood of animals and humans. In many cases, bites from bed bugs cause itching, soreness, burning, and swelling and are thus a public health pest. It is believed that bed bugs have become an increasing public health problem due to international and domestic travel, resistance of bed bugs to some pesticides, and lack of knowledge regarding the prevention and control of bed bugs.

The human bed bug is the most common species found throughout the United States and Canada. They are small (roughly the size of an apple seed) oval-shaped insects that are flattened top to bottom (as thick as a credit card). They are normally brown in color and sometimes resemble immature cockroaches. After feeding they may appear red and bloated.

Harm From Bed Bugs

Some people have no adverse reaction to bed bugs, while others may begin to itch, swell, or burn in areas of the body where the bed bugs have fed. Fortunately, bed bugs have not been known to transmit disease. However, where large infestations occur, these pests can weaken the immune system of small animals, such as pets. 

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to eradicate. Hiring a reputable pest control company with vast experience and knowledge concerning bed bugs is highly recommended. When a home is treated for bed bugs it generally takes several treatments by professionals to ensure proper control of the bed bug infestation.

You can supplement professional treatments by doing the following:

  • Steam clean mattresses, carpets, drapes, and furniture weekly, specifically the seams.
  • Launder ALL bedding, clothes, and textiles on the high heat cycle and store them in garbage bags or air tight containers.
  • Launder all clothes and bedding used each week on these same high heat cycles.
  • Use bed bug proof mattresses and box spring covers after your first professional treatment.
  • Eliminate clutter and repair or fill any cracks or holes inside the home.
  • Use diatomaceous earth around baseboards and other areas you suspect bed bugs may crawl. (When using diatomaceous earth use proper safety precautions.)
  • When traveling, inspect for bed bugs and make efforts not to bring them home with you. 

Bed bugs are difficult to control because they are able to withstand temperatures near freezing up to 113 degrees F°. Many people have tried to wait the bed bugs out, meaning they stay away from a residence for a few days or weeks thinking the bugs will die of starvation. However, research has shown that bed bugs can go several months without a meal. The size of the bed bugs and their ability to hide also make it difficult to treat for them. Adults commonly hide in the seams of mattresses, box springs, or other furniture as well as any openings or junctions they find in the room, such as where  the carpet meets the base boards or in electrical outlets. Additionally, bed bug hatchlings are small enough to pass through a stitch hole in a mattress.

Avoiding Bed Bugs While Traveling

Before you travel, visit the bed bug registry to view hotels that have been reported to, at one time, have bed bugs: http://bedbugregistry.com. When traveling, you can minimize your risk of bringing bed bugs home with you by doing the following:

  • Travel with duffel bag style luggage (These bags have minimal seams and can be laundered if infested.).
  • Upon checking into your hotel room inspect the mattress, box springs, bed frame, and furniture near the bed for bed bugs (Pay close attention to the seams and junction points.).
  • Purchase, plastic, bed bug proof encasements for your luggage.
  • Inspect pillow cases and bedding in the morning for bed bug fecal spots (These look like small, dark blue blotches of ink.).
  • If evidence of bed bugs exists, assume that bed bugs have infested your belongings. Sort clothes prior to leaving hotel room so you don’t have to sort them at home.
  • Wash and dry clothes on hottest cycle possible that will not harm the fabric.

Health Department Assistance With Bed Bugs

The Davis County Board of Health has approved a Housing Regulation that dictates how bed bug infestations are addressed by the health department.

Single-Unit Infestations: Any dwelling that is a single-unit, such as a house, is responsible to control any infestation on their property. The occupant of an apartment that is part of an apartment building is also responsible to control any infestation, if their unit is the only one infested. In these situations the health department can only provide education and recommend for you to research reputable pest control companies in your area and contact them.

Multiple-Unit Infestations: If multiple apartments or units in the same building are infested, the health department may be requested to come out and inspect for bed bugs. This inspection can only take place if access is granted by the occupants or owners of the multiple units. If bed bugs are found in multiple units at the time of inspection, a Notice may be issued to the owner that notifies them of the findings and their responsibility to correct the issue by a specified date.




Rats & Mice

Are rats and mice common in Utah?

Yes. Rats and mice live with, or in close association to, humans throughout Utah. They often live in or around structures that provide them shelter and food such as homes, garages, barns, etc.  Additionally, rats and mice that live on land being developed are often displaced during construction and move into spaces occupied by humans in search of shelter, food, and water.

What types of rats and mice are found in Utah?

House mice and Norway rats are the most commonly found species living near humans. There are many other species of rats and mice also found throughout Utah, including white-footed mice, harvest mice, deer mice, black rats, wood rats, etc.

What problems do rats and mice cause?

Rats and mice can both carry parasites or diseases that are harmful to humans. Additionally, hantavirus has been found to be carried by deer mice, but cases in Utah are rare. Rats and mice can also cause structural damage to buildings and often contribute to poor sanitation.

What should I do if I see rats and mice on my property?

Both rats and mice are generally active at dusk. If you see them during the day it may indicate that there is a large population. There are many things you can do to help control rat and mice problems.

  • Identify damage to homes or structures and close all openings. Any opening larger than ¼”, roughly the diameter of a pencil, creates the potential for a mouse to enter. Use materials that cannot be easily gnawed through such as concrete, metal, and hardware cloth to fill holes.
  • Remove vegetation and debris around structures and keep buildings and yards clean and free of clutter or waste.  Keep all garbage areas clean with proper fitting lids.
  • Pick up all animal waste daily and clean up any excess food after feeding. Keep all animal food secure in the home or in metal containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Eliminate any water sources. They only need three teaspoons of water per day to live.
  • Set up mechanical traps or bait stations, or contact a licensed pest controller.
  • Always wear gloves when removing rodents from traps or touching rodent, dead or alive.

What assistance can the health department provide me?

If you notice that rats are a problem in your neighborhood, the health department can provide assistance by distributing letters to all the homes in your area. This letter notifies residents that rats have been seen in your neighborhood and gives background information on the factors that attract rats. This letter also provides residents with recommendations they can follow to eliminate and discourage rats from their property.