3 Health Reasons to Bat-Proof Your Anne Arundel Home

Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has hundreds of waterways running through populated communities like Annapolis, Pasadena and Severna Park. Most of the insect species that bats prefer to feed on need a body of water to reproduce and survive. With a plentiful food source, the only other environmental factor a bat needs to survive is a safe place to roost. Naturally, bats roost in tree cavities, caves and rock cliffs. However, over time bats have learned that man-made structures such as attics, walls, and chimneys offer great protection from harsh weather and predators. Bats are great to have around in your community as free pest control. But when bats are roosting in your attic they can cause damage to your home and put your health at risk.

Bats and Rabies

Bats are known to roost in secluded areas of man-made structures, including attics and walls of residential homes. They usually don’t enter your living space in order to avoid encounters with humans or other animal that may harm them. Most bats that find their way into the living space (bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc.) are usually juveniles that are confused or lost. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 10% of all bats found in the living space of a home test positive for rabies.

How Bats Transfer Rabies

Rabies can be deadly if not taken seriously and treated immediately. There was a fairly recent case when a woman got bitten by a bat and subsequently died of rabies. She was woken up at night by a flying bat, and when she found the bat hanging on the curtains, she opened the window and shook the bat off. A few months later the woman became ill and went to a local hospital with symptoms of heart disease. She was sent to see a cardiologist who then realized she did not have a heart problem but she did, in fact, have rabies. Unfortunately, it was too late for the treatment. Bats have very small sharp teeth, and in most bat bite cases the bite appears as two small needle-like scratches or punctures. In most cases, a bite from a bat reportedly feels like two needle-like jabs. However, several people that have died from rabies didn’t even know they had been bitten by a bat and were most likely bitten while they were sleeping. During the autopsy, a bat bite was found on some and no bite at all was found on others, even though they tested positive for the strain of rabies carried by bats. Most of the people who were bitten by a bat while sleeping and didn’t feel the bite were elderly, young children or people who took sleep aids and were most likely in a deep sleep when the bite happened. While camping in his parents’ back yard, this teenage boy was bitten by a Big Brown Bat on the arm. The image of the bat bite in the photo above has been magnified, so that you can clearly see the puncture wounds from the bat’s teeth. This woman was bitten by a Big Brown Bat on her finger when she captured and removed the bat from her living room. Note how the bite is barely visible.

The Anne Arundel County Health Department urges anyone who has had contact with a bat to seek medical attention immediately. If a young child has picked a sick or injured bat off the ground, that child should be taken to a local emergency room. If you are woken in the night by a bat flying around in your bedroom, it is assumed that you have had potential exposure to rabies and you should get medical attention. In any case, if a human has been bitten or is suspected of having contact with a bat, the bat must be contained and then you should call the Anne Arundel County Animal Control and Health Department so the bat can be tested for rabies.

Bats Carry Bat Bugs and Bedbugs

Bedbugs and bat bugs are so similar in appearance, even Anne Arundel County’s best pest control professionals and exterminators would need a magnifying glass to be able to tell them apart. Thousands of years ago when mankind and bats shared caves together, the bat bug and bedbug were the same species. However, as mankind left the caves, the bugs that went with the humans evolved into bedbugs feeding on humans and other mammals. The bugs that stayed behind evolved to feed on bats and became the bat bug. Bat bugs will also feed on humans and other mammals if bats are absent, but they predominately feed on bats and most often leave with the bats. If a bat or a colony of bats roosts in a home that is infested with bedbugs, it is very possible for the bed bugs to feed on bats as well. Bedbugs will also hitch a ride on a bat to spread between households. The control methods for bedbugs and bat bugs are very different. Bedbug control requires all infested areas to be treated at the same time. If any bed bugs or their eggs remain in the home, then the infestation will start all over again. Bat bugs are controlled by having an Anne Arundel County bat removal company properly evict the bats that are roosting in your home. After the bats are gone, any remaining bat bugs usually die off in the attic or walls. However, immediately after the bats are evicted, existing bat bugs may migrate through the home in search of a new host to feed on. The homeowner in this video pulled a shutter off of the exterior wall and discovered that bats were roosting behind it. The dark pile on the step is bat droppings (guano) with hundreds of bat bugs crawling through it and all over the wall.

Infectious Lung Disease

Histoplasmosis is a lung disease found in humans that is caused by breathing in airborne fungal spores. The fungal spores form in bat guano (droppings) and bird droppings when they are in soil or have decayed over a long period of time. The fungal spores attach to dust particles and become airborne, especially when disturbed. People who do bat guano or bird dropping cleanup work should always wear proper protection to avoid histoplasmosis. In the past ten years, Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control has encountered 3 customers who died from histoplasmosis due to living too long with bat guano in the attic and walls of their homes. Two were in Maryland and one was in Southern Pennsylvania. If bats are roosting in your attic or walls, it’s important to have bats evicted from your home as soon as possible to avoid costly bat guano cleanup, attic insulation replacement and possible health risk. If you suspect that you may have bats roosting in you Anne Arundel County home, sit outside in the evening (be sure to have someone watching on all sides of the home at the same time) to see if any bats are coming out around your roof line. If you see bats coming out of your home, contact your Anne Arundel County bat control company at 443-417-3137 to inspect your home and review the bat eviction process with you.