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OPINION

Health and Wellness: Avoiding rabies

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Public Health
Perry Chief

In areas of a growing human population, natural habitat for other species becomes less available. Displaced animals may seek homes in garages, attics or under decks and porches.

Having bats living in the area isn’t all bad, because (according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources), a small bat eats between 1,000 and 2,000 insects every night. Even if you appreciate bats getting rid of mosquitoes, you probably prefer bats stay outdoors. If you notice bats near your home, consider putting up a specially made bat house so the bats will roost there instead of seeking shelter in buildings. For expert advice, go to www.iowadnr.gov.

You can become infected with rabies by contacting a bat’s brain or spinal cord, or its saliva. If you are bitten by a bat, or find a bat in a room where someone has been sleeping, capture the bat. Wear gloves to do this! A lab can test the animal’s brain to see if you will need rabies shots. Do not release the bat, or throw it in the garbage. Do not crush the skull or attempt to remove the brain. Contact the Dallas County Health Department at 515-993-3750 for help with lab testing.