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Health Department

Posted on: June 26, 2020

Capture the Bat for Rabies Testing

Capture the Bat DIY Toolkit

As summer arrives, your attic and house gets hotter. You wake from sleep in the middle of the night to find a bat in your room. What should you do?

STEP 1: Stay calm.
STEP 2: Safely capture the bat.
STEP 3: Call Madison County Health Department first thing in the morning.

It is very important that you capture the bat and contact the Health Department to find out if it should be submitted for rabies testing.  If you know for sure that the bat had no contact with family members, testing may not be necessary. However, if there is any concern that the bat may have had contact with anyone in the household, especially a child or an elderly individual, it is best to have the bat sent for rabies testing rather than letting the bat go.

Unlike other animals that can spread rabies, the bite from the tiny teeth of a bat could go unnoticed and undetected. Safely capturing a bat for rabies testing can avoid unnecessary and expensive treatment involving multiple visits to a healthcare provider for shots.

Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP) may be authorized by your county health department after the bite of a confirmed rabid animal, or if you are bitten by a rabies-suspect animal that is not available for testing.

Learn how to capture a bat safely:

  • Close all windows and doors, so the bat cannot escape the room.
  • Wear leather or other puncture-resistant work gloves to protect your hands.
  • After the bat comes to rest on a wall or window curtain, use a small container, such as a box or large coffee can, approach the bat slowly and place the container over it. Slide a piece of cardboard large enough to cover the opening under the container to trap the bat inside.
  • Tape the container closed to secure the bat and call the health department.

If you encounter a bat in your home, do your best to capture the bat without touching it with your bare hands and contact the Madison County Health Department at 315-366-2526. 

Click to watch the video “Catch the Bat Safely” or click here to learn more about rabies.

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