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Utah Department of Health warns of rabies risk during state’s biggest bat season



SALT LAKE CITY – Late summer fall traditionally occurs during Utah bat populations during peak hours; as a result, public health officials warn of an increased risk of rabies.

The Utah Department of Health said Tuesday that of the 44 bats tested for rabies this year, four were positive. At higher risk, they remind sailors to be careful in the bat area in the coming weeks and months.

“If you end up with a dead or alive bat, don’t touch it, don’t squeeze it and don’t destroy it, and don’t try to remove it from your home,” Utah Health Department epidemiologist Hannah Rettler said in the news. run. “Call your local animal control service to collect the bat and call your healthcare professional or local public health department immediately to report any possible effects and determine if preventive treatment is necessary.”

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Utah is home to at least 18 species of bats, says Kimberly Hersey, the Utah Wildlife Resources Division’s mammal conservation coordinator. Because the species feed mainly on insects, many bat species migrate or overwinter during the coldest months.

They tend to wake up after hibernation or return from migration around May and June. Also when female bats find places where they can give birth to puppies.

“They are amazing and easy to adapt. Part of that adaptation is that some species have managed to come to terms with humans quite well and actually find a home in our home, ”Hersey said. “Females are looking for a beautiful, warm place to settle down, have their pups and raise them. Attics under roofs and other areas of the home can create the conditions that are really good for some of these species. “

The puppies first start crawling and flying in about a few weeks, which means that in the last half of the summer, a bat population begins to grow, flying around Utah.

“This is the time of year when we will have the most bats (bats) as young people emerge and become more active,” Hersey added.

Five Utah bat species will begin migrating in late August and continue throughout October.

Rabies is at risk

Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system of humans and animals. It can be infected with bites, scratches or saliva. Bats ’teeth and nails are small enough that a bite or scratch could not see or feel anything, state health officials say. That’s why it’s important to avoid them if possible.

The state requires all domestic dogs, cats and ferrets to receive a rabies vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that 40,000 Americans can receive post-exposure treatment for rabies prevention each year.

Utah health officials say rabies is considered 100% fatal when symptoms of rabies occur. While it is the cause of thousands of deaths each year around the world, the CDC’s 2019 report. The study noted that rabies in people in the U.S. was particularly rare. She stated that in 1960-2018. There have been 125 fatal rabies cases reported in the country, or about two a year.

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. For example, a 55-year-old man from Sanpete County died of rabies in 2018, the first deadly case of rabies in Utah in 74 years. Bats were attributed to the source as it infected the virus.

The State Department of Health recommends that pet owners keep their pets indoors and care for them outdoors to prevent them from touching wildlife. They also recommend that people do not approach wildlife, noting that rabies-infected animals may not be afraid of humans.

If you are bitten by any wild or domestic creature, the department recommends washing the wound immediately with soap and water and seeing a health care professional, as well as performing animal controls to make it easier to catch the animal for rabies research or monitoring.

More advice on rabies can be found on the department’s website.

What to do if there are bats in your home

During peak seasons, bats fly around, chances are some, including the bat colony, may find shelter in your home where they can live. So what should you do under that scenario?

Bats are a protected species of wildlife, so killing them is illegal. Hersh said homeowners should first contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitation or inconvenience control company, which will work with wildlife officials to remove them. DWR provides a list of these companies on its website.

It is worth noting that the Wildlife Agency does not normally remove bat colonies at this time of year, as this is a critical period during which young pupae thrive. Some human health or safety concerns are being made, with a few exceptions, Hersey added.

As for one bat at home, wildlife officials say people can also remove bats in two ways. One way is to open a door or window, turn off all the lights in the house, and turn on the outdoor light, which can cause the bat to fly itself. The second is to remove it using a box or container. In this situation, a person can approach the bat and wrap the container around it, then slip off a piece of cardboard or anything that will close the container. They can then run the bat outdoors on a tree or other tall object.

Given the risk of rabies, wildlife officials say people should wear sturdy gloves rather than bat with bare hands.

DWR experts say people may also not allow bats to change in their homes. This can be done by adding a fan in the attic to cool it and make it harder for the bat to settle. People can also patch cracks in attics before or after a rooted bat. Officials said people could also install a bird net that bats could lower when they left the house, but they found it difficult to return home. Once all the bats are out, they can fill holes in the house.

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