What diseases can bats transmit to humans?
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.
What should I do if I have a bat inside my home?
If a bat is observed inside your home you should call Davis County Animal Care & Control at 801-444-2200 (after business hours call 801-451-4150). Animal control officers can remove the bat and transport it for rabies testing, if needed.
What should I do if I have physical contact with a bat?
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.
What should I do if I find that my pet has been playing with a bat?
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.
How can I get rid of bats roosting on my home or colonizing inside my attic?
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.
What assistance can the health department provide me?
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.