During many of our bat removal inspections throughout Charlotte, NC we run across bats roosting on the attic gable vent screen. The gable vent screen is a metal screen similar to those used in window screens. It’s purpose is to keep out insects and other unwanted guests such as bats and birds. The problem with most homes in Charlotte, NC is that the screen is usually not durable enough to contain a maternity colony of bats. Over time the bat droppings will accumulate in the attic gable vent screen and along with the bat urine it will cause the screen to deteriorate. Once the screen has been breached the bats would have full access to the entire attic. Also the bat guano droppings will begin to accumulate on the fiberglass insulation that could lead to potential severe respiratory health risks and the contraction of Rabies.
The two biggest heath risks resulting from exposure to bats are rabies and Histoplasmosis. Rabies is most common in the canine species in the United States and are also found in mammals such as bats living in the attic. There are reports that nearly 55,000 people a year die of rabies but that is mostly in Africa and Asia. The reason that bats pose such a risk is because nationwide 5-15 percent of bats in houses submitted for public health evaluation are positive for rabies. Bats in attic are the source for most human cases in the United States. When there are bat infestations of homes you run the risk of a bat in house. This is a very dangerous situation, and needs to be addressed immediately. Bat bites are not very evident and may not be noticed when they occur or when a patient is examined. Some people might say “I had a bat in my house and I don’t recognize any type of bite.” Even if you don’t recognize a bat pest bite, you should contact your local health department immediately. It is recommended that if you do have a bat in your house that you should be capture the bat in a safe manner in order to be tested. If the bat is tested and does not have rabies then most likely anybody that could have come into contact with the bat would not need to get the rabies shots. From experience, it is not a good idea to take any chances. I was bit by a bat recently on my gloves, but I was unsure if the bat had actually bit into my skin. Because I was in a hurry while performing removal of bats from attic, I released the bats and the bats were never tested for rabies. I did not want to take any chances and the health department director recommended that I receive the post exposure rabies shots. This is a set of four series of shots. The first round of shot is usually about four to five shots depending on your weight. The shots are then administered on the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 14th days. After you receive the post exposure shots and have another exposure to rabies, you are only required to receive just one round of shots.
Histoplasmosis is a disease that is caused by the fungus histoplasma capsulatum. Symptoms of this infection vary greatly, but the disease primarily affects the respiratory system. Histoplasmosis is common among patients because of an immune deficiency, the elderly and infants whose lungs are not fully developed. Histoplasmosis is contracted from contact to microscopic fungi borne from bat guano.