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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggieland’s winged mammals of the night

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Photo by File

According to environmental health service officials, if you see a bat on campus, do not touch it and report it immediately. 

There are many bats living on campus that can pose a health risk to humans. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, four bats were tested positive for rabies in Brazos County in 2016. Here are five things you should know about bats on campus.
1. Report any suspicious bat behavior as soon as possible.
According to Christina Robertson, director of the environmental health and services department, Facilities Services should be alerted any time a bat comes in contact with a human, is found inside a building or is found unable to fly.
“If it’s a healthy bat that’s flying and is active like they normally are at night, don’t worry about it,” Robertson said. “Bats typically don’t reside on the ground, so that would be an indicator of an unhealthy bat. Individuals should leave it alone and contact pest control. SSC pest control will come pick it up. The best course of action is to not mess with it at all.”
Bryan McGee, SSC pest control manager, said the bats shouldn’t be bothered, even once pest control is notified.
2. Bats are especially active during the spring semester.
McGee said bat activity varies throughout the year, but it is heightened in the spring.
“There are certain times of the year where it gets worse,” McGee said. “Spring Break is usually one of those times where we might get multiple calls over the course of a week. But sometimes we go six or eight weeks without a call. It really varies. Of course, the weather affects it as well. That and time of the year plays a part in it.”
3. Bats pose a rabies threat to anyone who touches them.
According to Robertson, rabies is the biggest risk associated with making contact with a bat.
Carolyn Brown, Registered Nurse at the Brazos County Health Department, said people may not even realize they have been exposed to the disease.
“It’s a disease of the neural system that is transmitted through bites,” Brown said. “It’s in the saliva. Bats are notorious for being carriers. What’s tricky on bats is you don’t always know you’ve been bitten because their teeth are so tiny and they have stuff in the saliva that numbs the area so you don’t know they’re sucking your blood.”
4. Policies are in place to protect you from rabies.
McGee said any bats that come in contact with humans or residence areas are automatically tested for rabies by the Laboratory Services Section of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“If it’s caught in a Residence Life facility, it automatically, whether there was human contact or not, is packaged and sent to Austin to be tested for rabies,” McGee said.
Robertson said individuals who have come in contact with infected bats will be treated for rabies.
“If there is contact with an individual and the bat comes back as having tested positive for rabies, we work with the Brazos County Health Department and coordinate through them to ensure that whoever contacted the bat gets the proper medical treatment and testing evaluations as soon as possible,” Robertson said.
5. Rabies can be treated if identified quickly.
Because rabies must be treated soon after contact, Brown said people should go to the emergency room as soon as they touch a bat.
“They’re going to start the rabies series,” Brown said. “So they’re going to get an immune globulin. Then they’ll get the rabies vaccine, which is a series of four over a period of three weeks. The ER is usually the best place because they carry the vaccine there.”
To report a bat sighting, call the Facilities Services Communications Center at (979) 845-4311.

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