Batwoman to the Rescue
It is winter, but local bats appear whenever the weather warms. One day last spring, the Whittaker Road Animal Clinic in Ypsilanti, which does all testing for the county, processed fifteen--and three came in one day this January. Veterinary technician Kristin White says most cases she handles come from Ann Arbor, mainly from older homes or homes undergoing remodeling.
Judy Gwozdek, communicable disease coordinator at the Washtenaw County health department, says Ann Arborites have encountered them everywhere: a woman took a sled down from the attic, not expecting a bat to be hibernating on it; once downstairs, the bat took flight. A man reached to turn on the shower and touched a bat hanging inside. A woman went out to her compost can and thought she saw an old banana peel on top of it. ...
Gwozdek warns not to dispose of a bat or let it escape if there may have been physical contact--people who are sleeping may be bitten or lightly scratched without knowing it. Bats can carry rabies, which is always fatal if untreated--and the only way to avoid a painful series of post-exposure inoculations is to have the bat tested. In 2011, 107 bats were brought to the Whittaker Road clinic for testing, and four were positive for rabies; two were positive last year. All animals, even indoor cats who might one day encounter a visitor, need preventative inoculations; unfortunately, vaccines for humans are limited and very expensive.