From Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services:
Although it is now fall season, bats need to stay “on our radar”. Buncombe County Health and Human Services reminds us that bats that are found indoors should be contained and tested for rabies because most human rabies cases in the U.S. have been the result of exposure to bats. Many of the exposed people were not aware of the exposure or didn’t take it seriously. Bats have tiny, sharp teeth that cause limited injury – a person who has been bitten may not even realize it. Your best protection is to isolate and contain the bat, notify city or county Animal Control that you have a bat that needs to be tested, and contact a Disease Control nurse or your doctor to assess your bat exposure and possible need for rabies treatment.
Buncombe County Disease Control has recently worked with several people who did not know what to do when they found a bat inside the house. In these cases residents released the bats outdoors before authorities were notified, leaving no way to test the bats for Rabies and subsequently having to receive the rabies treatment.
Learn how to handle bat situations and possible exposure to Rabies. Simple Actions can make a big difference.
• If you awaken to find a bat in your room, tent or cabin, do not release it outdoors. Instead, safely confine the bat to the room or tent, be sure all people and pets leave the space and contact your local animal control to have it captured and tested for rabies.
• If you know you have been bitten, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water before seeing a doctor.
• Never handle a bat with your bare hands.
• If any person has been potentially exposed to a bat, the bat should be submitted for testing without delay. If the bat is not available OR if it is not tested and found to be negative within 48 hours of the exposure, the person must start rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
• You should take the time to determine if there is a bat infestation in the building, even if only one bat is found. This can be done by contacting the Wildlife Damage Control Agent (www.ncwildlife.org/trapping/wildlifedamagecontrolagent.aspx ) and having them look for signs of a bat infestation such as bats flying out of building at dusk, squeaking or scratching behind walls, stains or odor outside or inside of the building.
If you find a bat indoors please call Buncombe County Animal Control at 828-250-6670 or Asheville Animal Services (if you live within city limits) at 828-252-1110. If you have questions about a bat exposure or whether you should get rabies treatment, call Disease Control at 828-250-5109.