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With winter coming on, many types of animals look
for refuges from the cold. Many times this means
human habitats that they intend to stay in through
the winter. Along with the mice and bugs, many
homes will become a refuge for bats. The
conventional wisdom to avoid a wild bat is true- they
are susceptible to rabies and can spread it even
through a very tiny bite. But after they are gone, the
danger remains in your home- but not from rabies.
Bat guano can build up in attics and eaves that have
been used by bats, and even if the human occupants
of the building are not aware of the dung, they can be
harmed by it. After guano has lain around for a couple
of years, a fungus can grow in it, releasing spores
into the air that cause histoplasmosis in humans. The
east and central parts of the U.S. are especially
susceptible to the fungus that causes this disease.
Histoplasmosis can cause serious respiratory diseases in humans, causing fever and chest
pains. If left untreated, histoplsmosis can turn into a chronic lung disease that resembles
tuburculosis. In the very young and the very old, or people who already have cancer, AIDS
or other serious illnesses, histoplasmosis can be fatal. Histoplasmosis can also travel from
the lungs to the eyes, causing ocular histoplasmosis syndrome, which destroys the central
vision (not periphreal). The lung problems can many times be cured with anti-fungal
medications, but the ocular disease has no cure.
If bat guano is found in a home or other building, it is important to have it removed as
soon as possible by a trained professional. A professional will search for any roosting bats
that may be inside, then for any passageways that may be accessible to bats. Any points
of entry have to be closed so that the bats do not reappear.
To remove guano, a professional will wear a respirator and dress in protective gear. The
guano is usually sprayed with water or a fungicide so that the removal process will not
cause the fungus to become airborne. It can then be cleaned up via a specialized vacuum,
together with cleaning chemicals, or can be collected manually, or a combination of both.