Wildlife damage control agent fielding increase of bat-related calls in the Triad

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — Leaders in Davidson County issued a warning after a second case of the virus detected in the county.

It involved a person and a bat that was later found to be rabid. County health officials say the bat flew out of the tailgate of a truck and left visible marks on that individual’s ankle.

A wildlife damage control agent in the Triad says bat-related calls are on the rise.

John Deal runs Animal Capture & Exclusion Services. He says bats will use people’s homes in the summer to roost, and during that time period, a colony can potentially double.

Deal says by the end of August through September is when rabies cases in bats spike.

“It’s not that it’s any higher, the disease rate is any higher, it’s just the likelihood of being exposed is higher,” Deal said.

It’s also not unusual for the number of rabies cases to vary year-to-year.

“This virus, like any virus, is it spreads it peaks and troughs just like the coronavirus. They are going to have peaks, they are going to have troughs,” Deal said.

He says even county by county you can see drastic differences.

“In Guilford County, we’ve had more issues with foxes. In Randolph, they’ve had more issues with coyotes. In Davidson a lot of issues with raccoons,” Deal said.

About 1 percent of the bat population in North America has rabies endemically, meaning they are carriers of the virus.

Deal says instead of panicking, he wants people to keep perspective.

“Does that mean that every time you have 100 bats in your house there is one with rabies? Absolutely not,” Deal said.

Deal has relocated around 600 rabies vector species this year. Only three tested positive for rabies.

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