Town of Arlington
Department of Health and Human Services
Christine Bongiorno, Director
27 Maple St.
Arlington, MA 02476
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Contact: Christine Bongiorno
Email: [email protected]
Arlington Department of Health and Human Services Provides Guidelines After Bat Tests Positive for Rabies
ARLINGTON – The Arlington Department of Health and Human Services (AHHS) is reminding residents of several safety tips and guidelines after a bat found in a home tested positive for rabies this week.
On Wednesday, March 8, a bat was found on the floor of an Arlington residence and tested positive for rabies. The bat was alive, but there were no indications that anyone was bit.
Rabies is caused by a virus which is usually spread from animal to animal, but it can also spread from an infected animal to a person. Rabies spreads when an infected animal bites another animal or person, or if their saliva gets into a scratch or wound, eyes, nose or mouth of another animal or person.
It is rare for people to get rabies in the United States. Approximately 55,000 people die from rabies every year around the world, and only one or two of those deaths occur in the United States. However, any possible contact with bats, including a bite, scratch or finding a bat in a room, should be taken seriously. Bat teeth are so small that a person may not realize they have been bitten.
“While rabies in humans is extremely rare in our area, it is important to take the safety precautions seriously when dealing with bats,” said Christine Bongiorno, Director of Health and Human Services in Arlington. “If you have any concern that you may have come in contact with a bat or other wild animal, please contact the health department right away.”
If a bat is found inside your home, AHHS recommends following tips from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to safely capture it:
Gather the following items for a bat capture kit:
- Gloves – heavy, preferably pliable, thick leather.
- Kitchen tongs or forceps – 9 to 12 inches in length.
- Coffee can or a similar container – preferably with a tight-fitting lid.
- Sheet of cardboard
- Net – with fine mesh and a long handle.
- Flashlight – to locate the bat without scaring the animal and causing it to fly around in alarm.
To capture a bat on a wall:
- Close the doors and windows to the room and wait until the bat lands.
- Approach the bat slowly, placing the container over the animal.
- Slide the cardboard between the wall and the container, lifting them away from the wall as one unit.
- Slowly slide the cardboard off the container while simultaneously attaching the appropriate sized lid.
- Tape the lid to the container so the bat cannot escape and label the container so it is not accidentally opened.
To capture a bat in a high place or in flight, come from behind the animal using a net. Transfer the bat to a container with forceps or thick leather gloves.
If you have captured a bat, and believe there may have been any exposure to a resident or pet, immediately contact AHHS at 781-316-3170 and the animal control officer at 781-645-8014. They will help you to determine if there was an exposure and whether the bat should be submitted to the state lab for testing.