WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Westchester County health officials are warning residents about the possibility of rabid bats.
County Health commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said that if county residents see a bat in their home, they should catch it and bring it in for testing.
Amler said that most bats that are tested are not rabid, so humans who may have touched the animals don’t need to be treated for rabies.
But without the bat to test, anyone who has come in contact with a bat will probably need rabies shots.
Westchester County Health Department Assistant Commissioner Peter DeLucia told 1010 WINS that if you do have a bat in your home, the best thing to do is to capture it in a coffee can, slide a magazine under it, bag it and freeze it to be brought in for rabies testing. But DeLucia says be careful not to smash it.
“We don’t want anybody taking a rolled up magazine or their shoe and smashing the bat because we need the head of that bat intact so we can test it,” he said.
But as 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, the health department is apparently forgetting that many people are squeamish when bats come inside their homes.
“Panicked; said ‘oh blank‘ a few times,” said Darryl Walker. “It was scared of me, I was scared of it.”
Walker said he opened a window, closed the door and the bat eventually found its way out.
The health department released a video on the proper way of catching a bat, Baumgarten reported.
DeLucia said they recommend you trap the bat yourself, but if you prefer to call a trapper, the health department can give you the contact information of trappers for the bat’s removal. The department’s website also has a list of steps to take if you have one in your home.
“If we don’t have that bat and that bat was in your house, you’re going to have to go for rabies shot because we consider all bats rabid until proven otherwise,” DeLucia said. “Rabies is fatal and we’re not going to take any chances.”
During the first week in August, 43 bats were brought to the health department for testing. None of the bats tested positive for rabies.
But 17 people who were exposed to a bat and did not catch it had to begin preventive treatment.
Pest control specialists are working overtime to round-up all kinds of creatures in Westchester, CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported in July,the main two being squirrels and bats.
Bats have been giving homeowners headaches for a while now.
As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported in August 2013, county officials said bats were active, getting into attics and flying around in homes.
“We’ve tested over 127 bats,” said John Hopper of the Westchester County Health Department in August 2013. “Of those, two were positive this month so far. And we have six overall for the year.”
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