Anita Karegar, an electrical engineering graduate student, woke up to a bat flapping around in her bedroom.
“I was not wearing my ‘specs’, so I assumed it was some kind of trash and I touched it,” she said.
Karegar was unsure if the bat had bit her, so she went to Hartshorn Health Service to get some information about bats and find out whether she should be worried about the effects of the bite.
Lisa Duggan, the immunization coordinator at HHS, said it’s imperative to get the bat tested if you think there is any chance at all you have been bit.
“This is a disease you cannot wait until you are sick to get treatment,” she said. “Nearly 100 percent of people who acquire rabies die if they do not get treatment.”
But there is no need for panic or alarm. These furry flappers aren’t invading the city.
Most of these bats live in unoccupied spaces in building attics, roofs and siding. However, students may occasionally encounter a bat if they pass by spaces such as stairwells or corridors.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife Web site states that about one percent of all bats carry rabies, which is a virus that affects the central nervous system of mammals, causing a fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Bats can transmit this virus through a bite, which is not always visible because their teeth are so small, according to the Poudre Valley Hospital Nurse Line.
The PVHNL recommends that those who believe they may have been bitten immediately contact a doctor who can check for symptoms of the rabies virus.
Also, animal services should also be called to capture the bat and test it.
“People find a bat and they think, ‘Oh, that’s weird,’ and then they throw it away,” Duggan said. “We want to get people aware that if they see a bat or are in contact with one, they should get the bat tested.”
Symptoms of rabies include fever, headaches and weakness.
Despite a tiny percentage of bats carrying rabies, most contribute to the environment positively. All 18 types of bats in Colorado help control the insect population by eating them. They also pollinate plants and crops.
And in Karegar’s case, everything turned out OK.
An animal safety team took the bat out of the house and tested it.
“It tested negative,” Karegar said. “Thank God,”
Staff writer Cody Zach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the 18 species of bat found in Colorado, according to the Division of Wildlife.
Big brown bat
Big free-tailed bat
Brazilian free-tailed bat
Townsend’s big-eared bat
Little brown bat
Western small-footed myotis
To get a bat tested for rabies, call Environmental Health Services at 970-491-6745 for on- campus services. For off-campus incidents, call the Humane Society at 970-226-3647.