SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO) — Cooler temperatures could have bats turning to your home for shelter.
Each year Sioux Falls Animal Control responds to hundreds of calls about bats inside of homes. So far this year, 74 bats were tested for rabies.
“When we know there was contact or suspect there might have been contact, that’s when we send the bat in for testing. So of the 74 bats that were sent in for testing, 4 of those came back positive for rabies,” said Julie Lindstrom, Animal Control Supervisor.
Julie Lindstrom with Animal Control says that number is higher than the one or two reports they usually get a year. While there is no cause for alarm, she recommends some simple precautions.
“We are just trying to remind pet owners to make sure their pets are vaccinated, to keep them safe and keep themselves safe,” Lindstrom said.
Bats can carry rabies and pass it along to humans or animals by biting which is why rabies vaccines are mandatory for pets.
“Vaccination is the way to go, we don’t want to have to mess around with possible exposure, it can definitely be a risky, harmful thing for the animal, if they were to contract it, they will not survive,” said Andrea Kroger, Veterinarian.
Of the four cases in Sioux Falls, three of the bats were caught by pets in the home.
“When bats are sick with rabies, they don’t fly as well, they don’t react as well. So they are down closer to the ground and easier to catch for dogs and cats,” Lindstrom said.
If you think you or your pet was bitten or closely exposed, call Animal Control.
Not all bats carry rabies. If you have a bat in your home and it has not been in contact with a pet or human, you can try confining it to a room and call Animal Control at the non-emergency number 367-7000.