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Bats and Rabies in Schools

Information for School Administrators

Every year in Colorado, children find rabid bats on schools grounds and bring rabid bats to school for show-and-tell. Several of these incidents result in children having to be vaccinated for rabies each year, which entails a 2 week series of vaccinations. Since rabies is fatal, such an exposure that goes unreported to adults could lead to the tragic loss of a child’s life.

 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment believes that prevention of contact between bats and children is extremely important and includes three key components:

 

  1. Educating children to not touch bats or other wildlife and to immediately report a bat found on the ground to an adult

  2. Informing school staff on what to do if a bat is found on the ground

  3. Decreasing the chance of bats being found on school grounds by:

    • informing school officials on the importance of discouraging bats from roosting in or on school buildings
    • implementing training for county environmental health specialists to inspect schools to identify the presence of roosting bats, and
    • providing resources to schools for what to do if a bat colony is on school grounds

 

Schools with Bat Colonies

If your school has a colony of bats roosting on school grounds, the department recommends calling the Colorado Parks and Wildlife to find a local wildlife trapper with expertise in bat exclusion.

 

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Office has created “Batty about Bats,” an educational document on the biology of bats, integrated pest management (IPM) for bats, and rabies prevention. The IPM portion of this document includes steps that schools can implement to discourage bats from roosting on the outside of buildings. However, removal and/or exclusion of bats from the interior of a building or structure should be conducted by a local wildlife trapper with expertise in bat exclusion. For more information about IPM related to bats, please view  Batty About Bats pdf file   .

 

Teaching Children about Bats

Children need to be shown what a real bat looks like, since most people have only seen bats either in cartoons or flying in the air from a distance at dusk. When a bat is on the ground, it is difficult for both children and adults to recognize it as a bat, because the wings may be folded inward. Children should be taught to not touch a bat and to immediately tell an adult. Adults must learn the safe way of capturing a bat.

 

Please consider showing your children the video "Bats and Rabies at Schools" and the Spanish version.

 

If you are a school administrator, teacher, or school nurse, please consider showing the Rabies Educational Video designed for school staff: Bats at Schools.

 

Please also consider printing and distributing the department's children’s rabies poster to your local schools where bat colonies may be roosting. Inorder to obtain the data file for a 17x22 version of the Bats at Schools poster, please contact the department at 303-692-2700.

 

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control in Phoenix, Arizona, has created several educational materialsrelated to pet care, dog bites, and rabies, including a comic book for children on bats in English and Spanish. Check out the "My Friend Toby" Bat Bites comic book [PDF] (also available in Spanish [PDF]) published by Maricopa County for a fun way to educate children about bats and rabies.”

 

Bat on the Ground: Now what?

Bat 2 image If a bat is found on the ground, cover it with a small box or other solid container. Gently slip a piece of cardboard between the ground and box and slide the bat into the box. Use leather gloves to prevent accidental contact between hands and the bat. Make sure that all seams are tightly sealed, because bats can fit through small crevices. Call your local animal control agency. Assure that the bat is not within a child’s or pet’s reach.

photo courtesy of Los Angelos County Public Health