White-Nose Syndrome is a disease, presumably caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that is causing mass mortalities in hibernating bats across an ever-expanding region of North America. White-Nose Syndrome has continued to spread rapidly. Bats with WNS have been confirmed in 33 states and 7 Canadian provinces. It has since been confirmed in 3 more additional states in the US.
White-Nose Syndrome is known to predominantly affect hibernating bats. More than half of the 47 bat species living in the United States and Canada rely on hibernation for winter survival. Seven bat species, including two endangered species and one threatened species, have been confirmed with White-Nose Syndrome. The causative fungus, Psedogymnoascus destructans (P.d.), has been found on an additional five bat species, including one endangered species, without confirmation of the disease.
Confirmed bat species identified with symptoms of WNS:
- Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) *Blehert et al. 2009*
- Cave bat (Myotis velifer)
- Eastern small-footed bat (Myotis leibii)
- Fringed bat (Myotis thysanodes)
- Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) *Endangered*
- Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) *Endangered*
- Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) *Blehert et al. 2009*
- Long-legged bat (Myotis volans)
- Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) *Threatened* *Blehert et al. 2009*
- Western long-eared bat (Myotis evotis)
- Southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius)
- Tricolored bat (Permyotis subflavus) *Blehert et al. 2009*
- Yuma bat (Myotis yumanensis)
Bat species in which Psedogymnoascus destructans has been detected, but no sign of WNS:
- Eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis) *Benard et al. 2015*
- Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)
- Southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius)
- Silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) *Benard et al. 2015*
- Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynohinus rafinesquii) *Benard et al. 2015*
- Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynohinus townsendii)
- Virginia Big-Eared Bat (Corynohinus townsendii virginiaus) *Endangered*
- Ozark big-eared bat (Corynohinus townsendii ingens) *Endangered*
- Western small-footed bat (Myotis ciliolabrum)
How Bad Is It?
Bats are dying in extremely high numbers. There has been a 93% decline in the Little Brown Bat population – (99% of little brown bats in Virginia). Over 5.7 million bats have been estimated to have died as a result of this disease, which continues to spread.
The most reliable predictor of mortality rates in WNS sites appears to be humidity. Indiana bats are dying rapidly in humid sites and are not dying as quickly in dry ones. The prevalence of WNS varies between species and sites. It is spreading quickly in all directions. Mortality is associated with the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans. The fungus attacks the exposed skin of bats while they hibernate, resulting in dehydration, unrest, and increased activity. These affected bats quickly burn through stored energy and often die in caves and mines where they hibernate.
White-Nose Syndrome is extremely bad for bats. (Please visit: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/static-page/how-you-can-help to learn out how you can help out bats. Save the Bats!!)
(Information and statistics for this blog post were used from the NWCOA Bat Management Professional Course and the website: https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/ .)
We offer nice and friendly bat removal through a process called exclusion. Exclusion is where the bats are able to come out of your home and not get back in without hurting or harming them.
Dealing with a bat infestation may be one of the most difficult problems when owning a home but how and when a person should deal with the bat guano, can also be a difficult decision.
With a properly insulated and ventilated home, you’ll be able to manage and mitigate excess heat and humidity more effectively and help extend the life of your home.
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If I Found A Bat In My Home, Should I Test It?
Yes, the CDC recommends that you should always test bats that are in your house and that you catch.
Do I Need A Rabies Shot?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is very clear when addressing rabies. “Recent data suggest that transmission of the rabies virus can occur from minor, seemingly unimportant, or unrecognized bites from bats… Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended for all persons with [a possible] bite, scratch, or mucous membrane exposure to a bat unless the bat is available for testing and is negative for evidence of rabies.”
If the bat was in a room with a child, a person asleep, a person intoxicated, or someone mentally impaired, they should seek medical attention. Post-exposure rabies shots may save your life, but the shots are very expensive so it is important to get the answer right!
If you can safely collect the bat you’ve come in contact with and submit it for rabies diagnosis, you may not need post-exposure rabies shots. To test a bat for rabies virus, its brain must be intact. The bat can be dead or alive when you collect it, but it will be euthanized for the test. You must preserve the bat in a container until it can be picked up or dropped off for testing. If the bat is dead, it should be stored in a cool place to prevent decomposition.
Is Bat Guano Dangerous?
In most cases, you can sweep up and clean bat guano without any cause for concern, however, we always recommend wearing protective equipment such as gloves, mask, and goggles. There is a small chance you can come into contact with and contract Histoplasmosis. A small amount of bat guano should be a harmless as a few mouse droppings. Once the guano piles up, a fungus that causes histoplasmosis can start to grow, and this is when you need to be careful.
If you are going to clean up bat guano by yourself, we recommend spraying the guano with bleach or fungicide before disturbing it to help mitigate your risk. The best thing you can do is talk to a professional (like us) before attempting to clean up a large amount of bat guano first.
If you do not want to clean up bat guano, we would be more than happy to do it for you and provide our services to you!
Will My Insurance Cover The Cost Of Bat Removal Services?
As long as you don’t have a stated coverage policy excluding bats, your insurance probably allows for some sort of coverage for damages caused to the sheetrock by bats. Getting this coverage is often difficult but can be done.
If you purchased your home in the last 24 months and the infestation was not disclosed to you, the errors and omissions insurance for the real estate agent and the home inspector involved in the sale may provide coverage. Additionally, the seller of the property is often liable for the first 24 months after purchase.