Can A Bat Infestation Make You Sick?

Picture of cave bat with white nose syndrome

Large flocks of roosting bats may pose a health risk to those who live nearby. Disease organisms that can grow in the nutrient-rich accumulations of bat droppings (guano), urine, and debris under a roost pose the most significant health risk, especially if roosts have been active for years. In addition, when infested bats leave their roosts or nests, external parasites can become a problem. After that, the parasites can infiltrate buildings and bite people.

Learn More: Bat Trapping FAQ

What Diseases Do Bats Carry?

Bacterial Growth: Bacteria can grow in an accumulation of droppings. When powdery guano decomposes, pathogens are released into the air. The insulation and attic structure may be harmed as the pile grows larger. Droppings work their way into the structure over time, leaving a lingering odor that’s difficult to get rid of.

Histoplasmosis: You’ve probably heard that bat guano is terrible for your health. The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum is found in bat droppings, also known as guano. If the bat guano dries up and becomes airborne, inhaling it can cause histoplasmosis, a lung infection. Histoplasmosis can be fatal if it spreads beyond the lungs and into the entire body. Also, do not attempt to clean up bat guano in your attic on your own; instead, contact professionals as soon as possible.

Rabies: Bats are the second most common source of rabies exposure in humans and pets after raccoons. The bite of an infected bat spreads rabies, but it can also be contracted by coming into contact with bat fur, guano, blood, or urine. 

Can My Pets Contract Diseases From Bats?

Because the most common diseases transmitted from bats to humans are zoonotic, pets are susceptible to many of the same illnesses as humans. While rabies is one of the most common diseases transmitted between mammals, dogs or cats may find or catch an injured bat and receive a bite or scratch. Histoplasmosis can affect pets as well, and they can develop the same respiratory problems that humans do if they contract the disease.

How To Prevent The Spread Of Diseases From A Bat Infestation?

It is possible to clean up a small accumulation of droppings from a few bats with soap and water. However, if there are large amounts of bat droppings, seek advice from a wildlife removal expert. If the spores from the droppings are inhaled, histoplasmosis can easily be contracted.