Spring ushers into North Carolina warmer weather, rain showers, pollen-covered cars, and the emergence of animals that have been in hibernation for the frigid winter months. In urban counties, one doesn’t see many bears, but we do see bats, and March and April are prime months for nocturnal flights to resume.
Bats are generally harmless mammals that eat many insects that can damage agriculture. However, bats have been linked to the spread of rabies in the United States, proper safety precautions are imperative if you see one.
If you encounter a bat, and it enters an enclosed space, (suite, bedroom, classroom, etc.), vacate the space, secure the space by closing the door, and inform a member of your hall staff or university facilities. University staff will work to have the bat trapped, removed, and sent for testing if necessary.
If you think you have been bitten or have been exposed to a bat, including saliva that may have gotten in your eyes, mouth, nose, or wounds, wash the area thoroughly and seek medical attention immediately.
According to the epidemiology unit of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, “People cannot get rabies just from seeing a bat outside or at a distance. In addition, people cannot get rabies from having contact with bat guano (feces), blood, or urine, or from touching a bat on its fur. Remember, just to be safe, bats should never be handled.”
For more information visit: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/rabies/docs/bats_safety_and_risk_management.pdf