FONDA — After Montgomery County’s Department of Public Health received four reports of bats in homes within the last week-and-a-half, the agency is reminding residents to take common-sense precautions.
Community Health Worker Suzzane Stegich said, for the most part, bats are “very active” in the summer and find themselves in small openings inside and around homes.
“Bats mainly house themselves in the gaps of roofs, attics, uncovered chimneys and often behind shutters,” Stegich said. “Bats are able to get into homes in very small openings. I personally had an upstairs side window open (about 1 ½”) to my house. We had taken the screen out while working on the roof and had a bat get in Monday morning.”
While none of the recent bat encounters have led to any “rabies exposures” in humans, the virus is still deadly and should be treated as such, she said.
“Someone could be a heavy sleeper and have a bat in their bedroom during the night, have contact with the bat and not be aware of it,” Stegich said. “We also consider younger unattended children in a room with a bat an exposure,” adding that intoxicated or handicapped people in an enclosed area with a bat are also considered to be exposures.
The health department has since issued a release, saying that the best way to prevent a bat from entering your home is by using polypropylene bird netting, fly screening, sheet metal, wood or various caulking compounds to close or cover openings.
It also reminds residents that its next rabies vaccination clinic for pets is scheduled for Sept. 12 at the St. Johnsville Town Barn from 9 to 11 a.m.
Clinics will also be held on the following dates and times:
Oct. 10 at the Florida Town Highway Dept. in Minaville, 9 a.m. to noon
Nov. 7 at the Mohawk Town Barn in Fonda, 9 a.m. to noon
“Keeping an animal current on their rabies vaccine helps stop the spread of rabies but protects them from exposure to rabies, not only from bats but with wildlife,” Stegich said. “It’s very common for me to take reports of pets — especially dogs — fighting with wildlife.