By Weijia Jiang

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– An increase in rabid bats is causing alarm in Baltimore City. You may have been bitten and not even know it.

Weijia Jiang has more on the spike in cases.

Bats are invading Baltimore.

“Last year, I had 10 or 15 calls from June to August,” said David Shumaker, owner of Shumaker Animal Control. “This year, I probably average 10 to 15 calls per day.”

The city health commissioner warns, it’s not just bats. It’s rabid bats, which could transmit the fatal disease to people and pets.

“Once rabies becomes a virus in the human system, people die,” said Bill Wiseman from the Harford County Health Department.

Animal Control has already collected 188 bats this year. A dozen tested positive for rabies, compared to 11 of 222 bats in all of 2010.

Just two weeks ago in Aberdeen, nearly 30 people were vaccinated for rabies after a bat colony infested two apartment complexes.

“At night, I see them flying real close to us, above our heads,” Perrywood Apartments resident Michael Jones said.

Health experts say you may be bitten by a bat and not even know it because of how small they are. An adult bat is about an inch and a half, so you can imagine how tiny its teeth are.

“You do get a scratch, and you’ll say where did that come from?” Kevin Usilton, director of Baltimore Animal Control, said. “If you have a bat in your house, call 311 immediately.”

Many are also calling private animal controllers like Shumaker, who describes the current bat population as the biggest he’s seen in 25 years.

“It starts at 2 a.m., it’s all day long,” Shumaker explained. “I had seven bat calls today.”

Why so many bats? Shumaker says this summer’s extreme heat provides more insects for them to eat, leading to more reproduction. Then, rabies is transmitted through saliva.

Comments (43)
  1. seuss says:

    I had a Bat in my house two days ago and which by the way 311 is closed after 10pm… the next day when Animal Control did come the Animal Control Woman was scared of Bats, ”what kind of mess is that”..

    1. hi_ho_kermit_here says:

      Seems that blood suckers are a common problem in America.
      Make the politicians obey our laws.

      1. O's Player Luke Scott Was RIGHT! says:

  2. Jack Cordero says:

    This should be the best thing that has happened to Baltimore City.

  3. Jack Kinch(1uncle) says:

    Do demos attract bats w/ rabies ?

    1. beedogs says:

      unreal. you Drudge-reading imbeciles have to make EVERYTHING political.

      1. John Blasnowski says:

        When dead people vote in big cities controlled by Democrats, it’s not hard to imagine that bats are next!

      2. neil says:

        I know a bunch of old bats that vote for Mikulski.

    2. Doubltap says:

      Demos ARE bats with rabies!

  4. Linda McGinnis says:

    Our house was surrounded by woods growing up, there was a colony of bats that lived in them. We use to go night swimming and keep a BB gun by the pool to shoot at them when they would swoop down at us.

    There would be nights where they wouldn’t come out at all, and nights where you’d see 50 at a time. That was the only reason I was happy they got rid of the woods and built houses around ours.

    1. James says:

      The swooping down at you is only the bat trying to get to insects that are attracted to body heat. They are highly beneficial creatures.

  5. jim says:

    6 percent of the bats captured are rabid this year vs. 5 percent from last year… Sure sounds like time to write an article that entices public panic..

  6. Michael Smith says:

    Bats are beneficial creatures and do not need more anti-bat propaganda. Bats are no more likely to be rabid than any other animal that lives in the wild. As the article stated, there were more bugs this year for them to eat. Imagine how many more bugs there would be if the bats were not there to keep their population down. Mosquitoes carry a lot more diseases than bats.

    1. John Robinette says:

      Why comment if you have no knowledge or experience with bats. Bats are the leading cause of human Rabies cases in the United States. I do agree that they are beneficial, but they are a major carrier of rabies and the main carrier of rabies in most areas. Years ago when I was an animal control officer, I was aware that if someone in my county were to get rabies, they were almost 100 percent likely to get it from bats. The problem is that if someone gets bit by any other animal they will know to report it, but most people will never know that they were bitten by a bat, I would rather catch a disease from a mosquito than a bat any day. There is no cure for rabies…..If you get it you WILL die.

      1. Ray says:

        Come on, be honest. There’s been less than 60 cases of rabies in the US since 1990. Even if ALL of them were from bats, who cares. That number is insignficant. And the most common carrier of the rabies virus is the racoon. I’m a hell of a lot more cautious when I see a coon than a bat. A large percentatge of bat rabies has been from spleunkers (sp?) in caves catching through aerosilozation of the rabies in such a confined area. How many rabies cases did you see in your county? I’m betting zero since the disease is hardly ever contracted by humans in this country. Peddle fear elsewhere. The chances of catching ebola are likely just as good as rabies.

      2. BostonBlackie says:

        you city people especially East Coast city people are really funny you dont know anything about nature and will listen to any stupidity about country and wildlife, people in the midwest and parts of the country where it is humid and damp put up bat houses for bats as a means of controlling mosquitos and westnile fever among others there are a lot of bust out here so yu city people go ahead and kill all your bats and catch the deseases that the contrl officer says he would rather catch anyday . me myself i would rather have bats than Bangers if yu know what i am sayin put bathouses

      3. James says:

        Bats are beneficial. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has reported that 100 bats feeding for 200 days will eat over 2200 pounds of insects. And a single little brown bat will eat anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 bats a night. In the world 1 in 17 people die from diseases carried by mosquito’s.

        “In more than four decades, public health records indicate that only 16 people in the United States and Canada have died from bat-borne diseases…placed in perspective, this means that the odds of anyone dying of a disease from a bat are much less than one in a million. In contrast in the United States alone more than 10 people die annually from dog attacks, not to mention dog and cat transmitted diseases.”1

        Instead of getting rid of bats we should encourage them as long as they are not in our buildings and outside where they belong by building and installing bat boxes.

        1Dr. Merlin D. Tuttle, America’s Neighborhood Bats, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1988.

    2. Doubltap says:

      Thank you, Michael, for weighing in with some common sense on this issue! At our marina, there are a number of people that are scared shirtless of the mud dauber wasps that inhabit the docks. They don’t bother anyone, don’t sting, and are only a nuisance due to the mud nests they build in out of the way places. BUT, they DO kill the hell out of the paper wasps, which are VERY nasty, will sting you on sight, and would have long ago proliferated throughout the docks were it not for the mud daubers. Similarly, the bats serve a valid ecological function, as we would be FAR worse off with plagues of mosquitoes, etc.

  7. Ray says:

    Exactly Jim. The numbers between the two years is statistically insignificant. If ever there was a “panic” article regarding native wildlife this is it. “Once rabies becomes a virus in the human system……….”and this guy is the department of health? With comments like that, he needs to lose his job. Also the “you might get bit and never even know it” implication is ripe with panic. Fact, the presence of bats dramatically reduces the chances of mosquito-born diseases. As a veterinarian with some education in the public health area, I’ll take my chances with rabies and the miniscule risk it poses compared to the mosquito-born diseases.

  8. Scott Smith says:

    I live on a small island off the coast of Maine. As you may know, the mosquito is the state bird up here. In fact, I believe we invented them. Now, I must relate my bat story:

    Three years ago I discovered I had a small bat living ( “hanging out” ) in my attic. He was only there in the warm Summer months. But, he would come back every year. I always leave the attic door open so he can fly around the house at night. He usually makes several ‘patrols’ around 10 pm or so and then goes outside to REALLY chow down. In all the time that Bob (I named him Bob) has been here I haven’t seen a single mosquito in the house. We also have no moths or other flying critters either. Truly amazing !

  9. Bob Ho says:

    You people are racist, the blacks did not ask to be rabid.

    1. HM Phobe says:

      You talking about black bats?

  10. GalaxySpinz says:

    This sounds like serious scare tactics to me. The chances of getting rabies from a bat is very very low. Most bats dies quickly after becoming infected. Bats are usually very gentle mammals and are more concerned with eating insects than biting you. If you see a bat and it allows you to approach it then it is probably sick and you should keep you distance. This is kind of sad being how bat populations have been declining rapidly due to white nose syndrome. We should be helping them and educating ourselves on the TRUE nature of bats. You can educate yourself here..

  11. ladysforest says:

    Rabies is ALWAYS present in every bat colony. Yes it is very possible to be bitten by a bat and not be aware of it. My Dr. used to raise bats, he told me this himself.
    A bat can scratch – it is a super fine scratch – and rabies can be transmitted that way. You can be asleep with your mouth open, a bat flying overhead can urinate….a bit gets into your mouth, rabies can be transmitted.
    If you develop rabies symptoms you are too late. You must receive the vaccine prior to developing the symptoms.
    The shots are not to the stomach anymore. They are to the arm. It is nothing at all like the old days, and the only pain is the same pain you feel from any injection in the arm. In most cases the cost is covered by the County Health Dept.
    I had to undergo rabies vaccine injections. A bat in my home tested positive for rabies. About ten bats a year would enter my home, and nothing would work to keep them out. There was a large colony in an empty warehouse 1/4 mile away.
    I had noticed a strange very fine scratch on my nose one morning. Two days later I found the bat hanging in my kitchen, chirping. Caught it and sent it to be tested.
    Lucky for me.

    1. Ray says:

      So much misinformation in this post I wouldn’t know where to begin. Please learn fact before posting this hogwash.

      1. Deb, Wildlife Rehabilitator says:

        Thank you, Ray & all the other folks with common sense and at least a bit of intelligence! I watched this “news” story farce & read all of the comments. At first I thought it was a piece from “The Onion.” If it wasn’t for the fact that the animal control companies are killing all of the bats, I would find the whole thing hysterical. The same folks that are screaming about rabid bats “infesting” their homes & trying to give them rabies will be the same folks that will be screaming when the fresh produce prices go up because there aren’t any bats around to pollinate the plants, disperse the seeds, or kill the agricultural pests that ruin the crops before the farmer can harvest them. Follow a previous post and google “white nose syndrome.” And oh, by the way, “Bat Expert” Shumaker: bats give birth to only one or 2 pups per year, depending upon the species.

    2. James says:

      “In more than four decades, public health records indicate that only 16 people in the United States and Canada have died from bat-borne diseases…placed in perspective, this means that the odds of anyone dying of a disease from a bat are much less than one in a million. In contrast in the United States alone more than 10 people die annually from dog attacks, not to mention dog and cat transmitted diseases.”1

      Where i’m from the city actually places bat boxes in parks because they eat so many mosquito’s.

      1Dr. Merlin D. Tuttle, America’s Neighborhood Bats, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1988.

    3. Lorraine Kurtz says:

      Wow, I suppose all those people watching bats fly out from the congress street bridge should stop looking up with their mouths open. Seriously, pee in your mouth?! Here are the actual facts:

    4. Ashley says:

      my boyfriend had to get a serious of rabies shots after a stray cat attacked him. for one, the shots were NOT covered by the health depeartment, which he now has over a $ 5000 medical bill for the numerous trips to the hospital/doctor for the 5 series of shots, and the shots made him so sick. he couldnt move for 3 weeks. they made him feel like he was hit by a truck. he also said it was the worst pain in his life when they injected it into hand directly at the site of the wound

  12. Jubal says:

    Sorry, Baltimore. I honestly thought the story was about San Francisco and the Pelosi/Boxer plague. Perhaps those ultrasonic mosquito repellers would work on the bats.

  13. spaceman says:

    My wife is an old bat. Should I be worried about rabies?

    1. GozieBoy says:

      I’d be more worried about being married to an old bat…

  14. Booga says:

    Good Lord that Lisa Jiang is Super HOT, What a Beauty.

  15. Tim Lucas says:

    tHE BATS NEED TO DROP DOWN ONE city or about 60 miles and bite everybody.

  16. Na na na na na na Na na says:

    People who have bats in their house are contributing to global whining. Bats are in because there are holes. That means heat is escaping. Time for the Gore Goons to invade Baltimore!

    But seriously, bats in the house means you need your house inspected by a wildlife exclusion pro. Little brown bats can fit into a space hardly big enough for your little finger. Caulk is all it takes, unless you already have a colony in which case you want it cleaned out. No need to kill all the bats either. They’re freaky critters that scare us mostly because of reports like this.

  17. Flyin4AWA says:

    Any chance of shipping some of these bats to Martha’s Vineyard?

  18. Terry says:

    I have noticed an increase in rabid bats elsewhere as in Washington where Wassermann Schultz has joined Hillary, Michelle, Pelosi, Maxine,and many others. Maybe they are spilling over into Baltimore.

  19. Chad Sampson says:

    Poor bats probably got the rabies from the local people.

  20. Deb, Wildlife Rehabilitator says:

    Another point to consider: What possible motivation could an Animal Control company have for spreading the hysteria about rabies??? Gee, do you think they make MONEY every time a person calls them & they go to the house to catch/kill a FEROCIOUS bat???? I’ll bet they were ecstatic about this “news” story.

  21. My neighbor kept a butterfly net in his place to catch those brown bats. He catch and release in the backyard. Not many each year but enough to keep him busy in the summer. I give rabie vaccines to people who will be working with bats. No stomach injections any more and certainly no injection in the bite wound site. The serum is a pink color after mixed. One shot in the arm every 30 days times three. The injection site can turn a little red but that is just irritation. No one has needed treatment for sickness from the serum that I know of. After 30 years in Emergency Room in Baltimore City and other large and small hospitals, I have never come across a bat bite person.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s