Bats, Rabies, and GuanoWhen you think about bats, rabies is likely one of the first things to mind after vampires. Bats can indeed be carriers of the disease, but the odds of being infected by a bat are slim. Since 1924, only 25 people in Canada have died of the rabies virus, and since 2000, only three cases were transmitted by rabid bats. As with any wildlife encounter, the key to protecting yourself is caution. Do not touch the animal. Do not approach the animal intentionally. If possible, back away slowly and find shelter until the animal leaves the area. If you encounter the animal, it is wise to get tested right away, letting your doctor know what happened. Oddly enough, despite the connection to the horror genre and vampires, most bats do not seek out humans or pets to bite. It is more likely that inhalation of bacteria from bat guano or poop will result in health problems than for rabies to occur through a bite or scratch, especially out of aggression. Histoplasma casulatum is a soil fungus often found in bat excrement, and it can result in histoplasmosis, a lung disease, in humans and pets. The guano spores mix with the air, and people inhale them, allowing the bacteria to enter the lungs. Because of this illness, it is crucial to contact a humane wildlife control company if you suspect bats live in your house or around your property.
Pets and PreventionWhile it is natural to worry about your pets and possible interactions with wildlife, there is no way to prevent every imaginable event. Bats are unlikely to be the aggressors in the wild, meaning if they bite or scratch, it is likely accidental or in self-defence. Knowing this, there are a few things you can do to protect your pet:
- Keep your pet within sight
- Use a leash for greater control
- Play in open fields, not dense woods
- Keep your pet vaccinations up to date