What to do if you find a bat in your house

A recent report on National Public Radio underscores the importance of seeking medical attention if you find a bat in your house, particularly in the room with you.

Last August, an elderly woman in Wyoming woke to find a bat on her neck. She and her husband searched for a bite, and finding none, decided not to seek medical attention. Over a month later, she died of rabies.

According to the NPR report, even after repeated complaints about bats under the eaves of their house, and calls to a county invasive species expert, the woman and her husband never received any information about the possibility of rabies.

An earlier case in South Carolina had similar circumstances: a woman found a bat in the curtains of her bedroom and released it through an open window. Thinking that she had no contact with the animal, she did not seek medical attention. After asking a local animal control service to remove the bats from her house, she still received no information about the possibility of rabies.

Rabies is very rare in humans in the United States. It is also rare in bats. However, most rabies cases reported in humans are associated with bats. According to the Centers for Disease Control, many rabies victims are children who were bitten in their sleep and did not awaken or found a bat in their bedroom and released it without reporting it.

Because summer has started and you and your family members may encounter bats or other wild animals that carry rabies, I have included a list of resources to learn more about rabies and bats. Often it is difficult to tell if a bat is carrying rabies, especially if it is still active. If it is lying on the floor, do not touch it, and make sure everyone has left the room.

Resources on Rabies:

Learning about bats and rabies, Centers for Disease Control

Take caution when bats are near, Centers for Disease Control

Rabies, Centers for Disease Control

Rabies Fact Sheet, World Health Organization

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