Bats, rabies, fungi and your home: A few words with Get Bats Out President, Michael Koski
It shows up in local media reports on nearly a daily basis–a bat is found in a person’s home, later to be tested positive for the deadly viral disease, rabies.
To learn more about bats, your home and the infectious diseases they carry, I spoke to the President of the bat removal company, Get Bats Out, Michael Koski.
When asked about why everytime a bat is found in someones home, the residents typically receive rabies prophylaxis, regardless of whether they got bit, Mr. Koski said, “If the bat is encountered in the evening before anyone has gone to sleep, and there is certainty the bat had no skin contact with a person – there is no cause for concern.
“However, because a bat’s teeth are so small a bite can go undetected if the person is asleep or intoxicated. The same potential concern exists with young children who may be too afraid to admit they have been bit or may not have noticed.”
He cites a story from South Carolina as an example of a person who didn’t remember being bit (and then died of rabies).
Do all bats carry rabies?
“The most conservative estimates (Bat Conservation International) say that less than 1% of bats carry rabies. However, up to 10 to 15% of bats tested each year have rabies”, Koski said.
“This can be explained by the fact that healthy bats sleep in their roost all day and then hunt at night with the rest of the colony. Bats that end up active in the day – or outside the roost are likely to have something wrong with it. These are the bats people come in contact with.”
I asked the expert on bat removal a question many people may be asking, “what should you do if you find a bat in your house?”
Koski says there is a very logical, step by step process to take and refers readers to the following link– Do you have a bat in your house right now?, which outlines actions the homeowner should take.
“Following the steps in that article should help everyone to not over react and to also hopefully avoid the need for rabies shots, which can be $4000+ per person” Koski notes.
Rabies is not the only infectious disease concern associated with bats in your home. I asked Michael Koski to discuss a fungal disease associated with bat droppings, histoplasmosis.
Koski said, “100,000+ people get this every year in the United States with the vast majority of the cases occurring in the Ohio River basin. Some of these cases come from contact with bat guano. Most survive with some scarring of the lungs.
“There are no industry standards on the appropriate way to safely clean up guano; however, we have a written guide based on much research. This protocol passed NIOSH standards when we were bidding a clean up job for an NSA office building.”
As a homeowner, you wonder if homeowners insurance will cover issues like bat guano cleanup. I asked Mr. Koski about this and he said usually yes but with variables.
“We HIGHLY recommend our clients read our free guide “Bat Strategies” before talking to their insurance company. Most filed agents have not dealt with bats and their knee jerk answer will be “not covered”. Our guide is designed to educate the client about their policy & to help educate the insurance company to the risks and damage unique to bat removal and clean up.”
Rabies and histoplasmosis. Is there anything else you should know?
Get Bats Out specializes in Bat Exclusion (removal), Guano Clean Up and Histoplasmosis Remediation. Koski says that is all we do and we are the largest company in the world specializing in bats. We get the difficult jobs and have written the only “do it yourself guide” for homeowners that is available. Our service is humane and professional. We do not kill bats. We operate in the 48 continental states, Mexico and Costa Rica.
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