CCHD Reminds Residents to Avoid Bats

The Cascade City-County Health Department (CCHD) wants to remind people to exercise caution around wild animals, especially bats. “Bats are beneficial in many ways, including insect control, but are also known to be carriers of rabies in Montana,” says Alex Dachs, Environmental Health Sanitarian for CCHD. He goes on to add that “as more people attend summer camps, recreate outside, and open their houses to the warmer air of summer, the possibility of coming into contact with bats increases. We just want to remind people of the steps they can take to protect themselves and their families.”

Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks an individual’s nervous system, so it is imperative that people understand the importance of protecting themselves. Here are some preventative steps that can be taken to make sure that contact with wild animals is limited and outdoor time is safe and enjoyable.

  • Enjoy wild animals (racoons, bats, foxes) from afar. Never handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
  • Bat-proof your house. Close all outside openings larger than 3/8″ in the walls, roof, and floors. Put screens on all windows, doors, and chimneys to prevent bats from entering structures where they might come into contact with people and pets. For more tips and information, visit www.cchdmt.org.
  • Vaccinate dogs and cats against rabies and make sure they have a current rabies certificate. Cats are especially susceptible to rabies exposure from bats because cats catch more bats more often than dogs do.
  • If you find a dead bat or other animal, don’t touch or handle it and make sure you dispose of it properly. Without touching the animal, use a scoop or shovel to pick it up and place it in a plastic garbage bag. The bag containing the remains can then be placed in an outside garbage can.
  • If a bat has made its way into your home, use caution and call animal control. It is important that the bat is captured, sent in, and tested for rabies.
  • Healthy bats will naturally be drawn to areas like the eaves of a house, under a porch overhang, or hidden behind shutters or gutters; seeing them in one of those areas is not necessarily cause for concern.

If you have been bitten by an animal, please contact your physician, report to a local Emergency Department, or contact CCHD at 454-6950 to ensure that you receive proper treatment.

For more information please visit our website at www.cchdmt.org or call CCHD at 454-6950 and ask to speak with an Environmental Health Sanitarian.