Health Services: Be cautious around bats that may enter residence halls

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As the temperatures begin to drop in the region, bats are known to come indoors for warmer temperatures -- especially at night. University Health Services has advice for students on what steps to take if they encounter a bat in the residence halls or other buildings.

If a bat enters their room, students should leave the room immediately and contact their resident assistant. Students should not leave any windows or doors open to allow the bat to escape. Instead, Residence Life will make arrangements to have the bat removed from the room and tested for rabies.

“It’s important to stay away from the bat, keep your windows and door closed, and leave the room so the bat can be captured for testing,” said Shelley Haffner, infectious disease manager for University Health Services.

According to the Centers for Disease Control , preventive treatment for rabies (or prophylaxis) is recommended for all people with bite, scratch or mucous membrane exposure to a bat, unless the bat is available for testing and it can be shown that the animal is negative for evidence of rabies.

Students should call UHS at 814-863-4463 to discuss treatment options if:

-- They were sleeping while the bat was in the room; or
-- The results of the rabies tests come back positive. Results are typically available in 24 to 72 hours, provided the bat is captured. These students should begin rabies prophylaxis immediately; or
-- The bat escaped their room.

University Health Services officials urge students NOT to pet the bats, not to hold them and not to view them as domesticated pets. Also, students should not attempt to capture a bat. A bat attempting to escape may bite or scratch a person.

While bats are normally not dangerous, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6 percent of animals tested for rabies each year are found to be rabid -- so caution in any encounter is urged.

Students with any health related questions should call UHS at 814-863-4463.

Media Contacts: 

Jill Nadorlik

Work Phone: 

Marketing manager, University Health Services

Last Updated September 06, 2013