Bat-Related Incident Guidelines

If an individual has been bitten or scratched by a bat, or if a bat has touched an open wound or mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose or mouth, the bat should be captured and tested for rabies. Bats should also be captured for testing if they are discovered:

  • in an area where people have been sleeping,
  • in a daycare setting and
  • in areas where persons are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Bat exposure incident in a campus facility

  • Individuals should evacuate the area, leaving one person behind to monitor the bat.
  • Make a list of all individuals exposed to the bat. The list should be submitted to EH&S.
  • All those with possible contact should wash the area of potential contact with soap and water.
  • Contact Pest Management Staff for assistance in capturing the bat.
  • If the bat has not come in contact with anyone it can be released outside.
  • If the bat has come into contact with someone, the bat should be taken to EH&S for refrigeration prior to laboratory testing.
  • EH&S will arrange for testing through the County Health Department: (631) 295-8382.
  • Results of the rabies testing will be communicated to EH&S. EH&S will contact the individuals on the exposure list and recommend any necessary medical procedures.
  • A FIXIT Work Order will be generated by the appropriate personnel to correct any structural problems (e.g., ripped screen) that allowed the bat to enter the facility.

What if someone has been bitten by a bat

For questions about handling incidents, contact EH&S at 632-6410. To immediately report an exposure that may require rabies treatment, contact University Police by calling 911 from a campus phone or (631) 632-3333 from a cell phone. They will call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services immediately at (631) 853-3055, regarding any contact with a bat. Alternate contact is Brian Gibbons, SCDOH at (631) 853-3049, Cell: (631) 840-7132. In the event that four or more hours are needed before rabies testing occurs, the bat should be double-bagged in plastic and placed in a cooler or refrigerated area. The specimen should be kept away from potential contact with people or other animals. Laboratory testing is the only method to confirm the presence of the rabies virus in bats. If a bat is not available for testing, the rabies vaccination series is recommended for all those exposed.

Treatment

The prophylaxis consists of one dose of rabies immune globulin (human origin) and one dose of rabies vaccine (human diploid cell) administered on the day of exposure, followed by additional single doses of rabies vaccine on days 3, 7, 14, and 28 following the initial injection. This treatment is normally safe, relatively painless, and very effective.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Bat Capture Procedure

If a bat is within arm's reach, the coffee can method should be used:

Carefully avoid direct contact with the bat and avoid damaging its head.

To capture the bat:
  • Close the windows, and the room and closet doors; turn on the lights and wait for the bat to land.
  • Wearing heavy gloves, cover the bat with a box, coffee can or garbage can or similar container with a lid*.
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the can, trapping the bat.
  • With one hand firmly holding the cardboard in place against the top of the can, turn the can right side up.
  • Replace the cardboard with the lid. (if no lid, tape the cardboard tightly to the can)
  • Release the bat outside if no one has had contact with the bat.

If a bat is not within arm's reach, an extension pole with a net may be used to capture the bat:

  • While wearing heavy gloves slowly approach the bat and cover it with the net.
  • Rotate the pole so that the bat is scooped into the net and the net turns in on itself containing the bat.
  • With a gloved hand, grab the bat through the outside of the net, slide the container into the net, push the bat into the can and place the lid on the can (if no lid, tape a piece of cardboard over the can)
  • Release the bat outside if no one has had contact with the bat.

* Note: If a bat has landed in a space that is too narrow to cover with a coffee can, forceps may be used to capture it. Using a gloved hand to hold the forceps, firmly but gently grasp the bat under a wing and close to its body. Place the bat in the bottom of the coffee can. Cover the coffee can and release the bat outside if no one has had contact with it.

Note: All bat-related incidents should be reported to the EH&S.

To immediately report an exposure that may require rabies treatment, contact University Police by calling 911 from a campus phone or (631) 632-3333 from a cell phone. They will call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services immediately at (631) 853-3055, regarding any contact with a bat. In the event that four or more hours are needed before rabies testing occurs, the bat should be double-bagged in plastic and placed in a cooler or refrigerated area. The bat should be kept away from potential contact with people or other animals.


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