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Bats in the Attic: Histoplasmosis & Other Health Concerns

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Published on Dec 4, 2014

There are over a thousand species of bats worldwide and many can be found living near people. Two basic requirements for the presence of bats are a place to forage and a place to roost. Unfortunately, many homeowners have found that for some species of bats, a favorite place to roost is in their attic. Although bats play a critical role in our ecosystem, their presence near humans has also been associated with disease.

Bats can fit through small openings to reach an attic where they can roost in large numbers. Over time they will deposit significant amounts of droppings, known as guano. Not only does this guano create unpleasant odors and can cause damage to property, it also supports a fungus known as Histoplasma that can cause histoplasmosis, a potentially severe infection.

Histoplasma is often found growing in soils and on materials contaminated with bird droppings or bat guano. If these materials are disturbed, fungal spores can become aerosolized and inhaled causing people to develop histoplasmosis. Although many people who breathe in these spores don’t get sick, those who do may have a fever, cough, chills, headache, chest pain, body aches and fatigue. Symptoms often appear between 3 and 17 days after a person inhales the fungal spores.

In some people, such as those who have a weakened immune system, the infection can become severe, especially if it spreads from the lungs to other organs. Even people’s cats and dogs can get histoplasmosis.

Another health concern for people with bats living in their home is rabies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bats are one of the primary animals that transmit rabies.

Some species of bats have also been associated with some viruses that can cause human illnesses, including coronaviruses.

These are just a few things to know about health concerns associated with bats living in attics. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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