Bats pose a threat to safety because if they bite a human or companion animal (i.e., dog or cat), there is the possibility of disease transmission, such as rabies.
Should bats be reported to Animal Care and Control?
A bat should only be reported when there is a risk that the bat transmitted rabies to a person or pet. In these cases, Animal Care and Control must collect the bat and have it tested for the rabies virus.
How do I tell if the bat may have transmitted rabies to a person or pet?
The rabies virus is present in a rabid animal’s saliva, and is transmitted via a bite. People will generally know if they have been bitten by a bat, but may not under certain circumstances.
Ask the the following questions:
- Did the bat bite a person?
- Was the bat in the same room as a sleeping person?
- Was the bat in a room with an unattended child?
- Was the bat in a room with an unattended pet?
- Was the bat in a room with a mentally impaired or intoxicated person?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes," make a report to the Citizens' Service Bureau by calling (314) 622-4800.
If the answer to all of these questions is “no”, you do not need to make a report. There is no need to collect and test the bat, because it has not transmitted rabies to a person or pet. It is safe to open a window or door and allow the bat to fly away. If the bat will not leave the home on its own, it is also safe to gently remove the bat while wearing thick gloves.
Can I get rabies from the bat any other way?
No. The rabies virus is only present in saliva and nervous tissue. People can contract the virus when a rabid animal bites them, introducing the animal’s saliva to the nerves beneath a person’s skin. Rabies is not be spread through contact with the bat’s skin, hair, blood, or guano (feces). Rabies is not spread by the bat’s saliva coming into contact with a person’s unbroken skin. Consult a physician if you have concerns about other possible diseases from handling bats or their guano.
What about bats outdoors?
The best course of action is to avoid disturbing the bat. It will not harm you if you leave it alone. It is perfectly normal for bats to live outdoors, even in urban areas.
If you consider the bats to be a nuisance, you can contact a pest control company for removal.
How to report a bat bite:
If you or someone else has been bitten by a bat, you will need to contact the Citizen's Service Bureau and make a report. You can call the Citizens' Service Bureau at (314) 622-4800. Or, make a complaint or request a city service online.