WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Bats have been making their way into Westchester homes this month, and the Westchester County Health Department wants residents to know what to do if you catch one in your home.
“We’d like everyone to catch the bat,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler. “Most of the time, the bats tested are not rabid, so you and your family can be spared unneeded treatment. But rabies is fatal, so without the bat to test, you will most likely have to get rabies shots.”
During the first week in August, 43 bats found in homes were brought into the Health Department for testing. None of those bats tested positive for rabies, and the residents did not have to receive rabies treatment. However, 17 people who were exposed to bats did not catch them for testing and had to begin preventive treatment for rabies.
To learn how to safely capture a bat in your home, watch the video on the Health Department website here.
If there’s a chance that a person or pet in your house had contact with the bat, catch the bat and call the Health Department at 914-813-5000 to arrange to have it tested for rabies.
Here’s how to safely catch a bat:
1. Close windows and doors so the bat cannot escape.
2. Wear thick gloves and grab a container (such as a coffee can), a piece of cardboard and some tape.
3. Wait until the bat has settled on a wall.
4. Place the container over the bat, trapping it against the wall.
5. Slide the cardboard between the wall and container to trap the bat inside.
6. Tape the cardboard to the container
7. It’s critical to keep it on ice in a cooler or double-bag it and place it in the freezer.
8. Call the Health Department at 914-813-5000 for advice on submitting the bat for testing.
To bat-proof your home, add screens to your eaves and attic openings. Beware of opening close patio umbrellas, as bats like to hide there.
For more information, visit the Westchester County Health Department’s website here.