Health Risk Associated with Bats Indoors - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/24/05

Health Risk Associated with Bats Indoors

One of the bats that have been scaring residents of Yamacraw Village. One of the bats that have been scaring residents of Yamacraw Village.

Are the bats terrorizing people in Yamacraw Village apartments dangerous? We spoke with the health department and the housing authority to find out what you need to know to stay safe.

Bats aren't usually a danger to people, but we talked with one expert who says, under circumstances like this--multiple bats in closed space--people should be careful.

Every night around 7pm, you can hear them start to come outside. And some of these bats are finding their way inside instead, where they can become a problem.

"Now they got no place to go and they're flying around crazy," said resident Rashard Johnson.

Most bats don't carry rabies, and in general they stay away from people. But in close quarters, it's a little different. "Out in the open, it's usually not a risk," said Dr. Diane Weems. "It becomes a risk when they are in residential places in rooms where people are staying."

Dr. Weems says bats' teeth are so small that you may not even know it when one bites you. So in certain instances, like if you wake up with a bat in the room, you should call poison control.

"It does scare us, because of the simple fact that it can get to one of our kids," said resident Anna Powell. "Just like earlier, it was on the back of my little niece."

To try to prevent that, people need to keep the bats out of their houses, by limiting the ways they can get get in. "I'm just going to keep my windows sealed tight like they said and make sure all my doors are closed at night time," said Johnson.

The Housing Authority of Savannah came through on Wednesday and put new screens on doors that had holes in them already, but that's not keeping some people from going elsewhere to sleep at night.

"Ain't no way in the world we're going to stay in the house," said Powell. She says with small children in her apartment, it's not worth the risk to stay at home, until they can get all the bats taken care of.

The housing authority went around with flyers yesterday telling people about bats, and there were a couple lines in there saying bats aren't dangerous. The health department says in most cases, that's true, but with this unique situation, people should be careful if they have bats inside.

If you are worried that there's a chance you or your children could have been bitten, call Georgia's Poison Control at 800.222.1222.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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