Thursday, October 30, 2014
Rabies and Animal Bites

The goal of this program is to reduce the risk of exposure to the rabies virus and to prevent the occurrence of rabies. 

The program provides the following services: 

  • Responds to reported animal bites and potential exposures, including consultation with medical personnel for follow up on post-exposure medical treatment when necessary.
  • Submits suspected animal specimens to the New York State Laboratory in Albany for rabies analysis.
  • Monitors 10-day confinement and 6-month quarantine of domestic animals involved in human contact or contact with potentially rabid animals.
  • Conducts FREE RABIES IMMUNIZATIONS CLINICS, three times a year, for dogs and cats owned by Cayuga County residents.   For upcoming dates, follow us on facebook.

Rabies is a fatal disease that cannot be cured once a person begins to have symptoms.  Rabies has been present in Cayuga County since 1992 in terrestrial animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and other mammals.  In addition to terrestrial rabies, bat rabies has also been shown to be present in Cayuga County.  Birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects cannot transmit the disease.

Rabies can only be acquired through contact with an infected animal.  Contact is defined as a bite, scratch, saliva contact to your eyes, nose, mouth, or open wound; or any physical contact with a bat.   Possible exposure of people, pets or domestic livestock must be reported to the Cayuga County Health Department at 253-1405 or, after hours, to the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Department at 253-1222. 

Bats & Rabies

A bat in your home can be a serious health risk to you and your family. Rabid bats have been documented in the 49 continental states, and are increasingly identified as the source of rabies transmission to humans.  Data suggests that even minor, seemingly unimportant, or even unrecognized bites from bats can transmit rabies.  For this reason it is important to protect yourself from bat exposure.   

What To Do If A Bat is Found Inside Your Home

If a bat is found in a house and there is any chance that contact between the bat and a person or a pet occurred, the bat needs to be captured and submitted for rabies testing. Because people have developed rabies after unapparent exposures, rabies treatment may be necessary in situations where there is reasonable probability of exposure unless rabies can be ruled out by submitting the bat for testing.  If a bat is found in the house and there is any chance that contact with a person or a pet occurred, the bat needs to be captured.  DO NOT release the bat if there is a reasonable probability of an exposure such as direct physical contact with a bat, a bat found in a room with a sleeping person or unattended child, or a bat found in a room with an individual under the influence of alcohol and drugs or with other sensory or mental impairment. 

The bat should be captured and submitted for rabies testing under the following circumstances:

  • A person had direct physical contact with a bat.
  • A bat is found in a room with people who are sleeping.
  • A bat is found in a room with an unattended child or impaired adult
  • A bat is in contact with a domestic pet (dog or cat)
  • If none of the circumstances above have occurred, the bat can be released outside.

Capturing the Bat


  • Turn on all lights and close all windows and doors to the room, including closet doors.
  • Wait for the bat to land.
  • While wearing a pair of gloves (preferably leather, if possible), place a coffee can, pail, or similar container over the bat.
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat.
  • Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container.
  • Turn the container right side up and tightly seal the cardboard to the container with tape.
  • Contact the Cayuga County Health Department to arrange for the bat to be tested for rabies. 

Keeping Bats Out of Your Home


In order to keep bats from entering your home, you must first determine if any are already present.  You may want to do the following to be on the look out for the presence of roosting bats:

  • Listen for any squeaking noises coming from areas such as the attic or walls.
  • Inspect attic spaces, rafters, porches, walls, and scratched areas on or around beams.
  • Walk around the outside of your home at dusk to see if you are able to see bats coming from the house, such as from chimneys or any other openings that may be present on the outside of your home.
  • If you cannot see them at dusk, you may also walk around at dawn to determine where that may be flying back into your home.  At dawn they will be roosting again until dusk.

You should inspect your home each spring for signs of roosting bats in your home.  You can take the following preventative measures to ensure bats will not enter your home:

  • Inspect, and if necessary, repair all screened windows and doors to your home.
  • Look for any openings to your home larger than 1/4 inch by 1 inch near areas such as the attic, basement, and walls.
  • Seal any of these openings with materials such as expanding spray-on foam, caulk, wire mesh, steel wool, or bird netting.
If it has been determined that bats are roosting in your home, take the following tips to eliminate them from their current roosting location:
  • Do not seal the opening in which they are flying into.  This may force them into your actual living space, or will cause them to be trapped and eventually die in your home.
  • Place a special type of netting over the opening that will allow the bats to exit the opening but not re-enter.
  • Consult a Pest Control Expert that specializes in bat control. 

More information on Rabies: