White Nose Fungus is killing Bats and increasing the number of mosquitoes.
Reprinted from the National Park Service
What Is White-nose Syndrome?
White-nose syndrome (WNS) is the fungal disease killing bats in North America. Research indicates the fungus that causes WNS, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is likely exotic, introduced from Europe. What started in New York in 2006 has spread to more than half of the United States and five Canadian provinces by August 2016, leaving millions of dead bats in its path. WNS causes high death rates and fast population declines in the species affected by it, and scientists predict some regional extinction of bat species. These include the once numerous little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and federally listed Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and northern long-eared bat (Myotis spetentronalis).
call the disease “white-nose syndrome” (WNS) because of the visible
white fungal growth on infected bats’ muzzles and wings. This
cold-loving fungus infects bats during hibernation, when the bats reduce
their metabolic rate and lower their body temperature to save energy
over winter. Hibernating bats affected by WNS wake up to warm temperatures more frequently, which results in using up fat reserves and then starvation before spring arrives.
The visible signs of WNS show the disease is in a later stage. These bats are already dealing with life-threatening physical function changes,
such as acidification and dehydration. Even before the infected bats
start to wake more often, infection with the fungus causes bats to use
energy twice as fast as healthy bats, according to research from scientists at University of Wisconsin.
How WNS Spreads
The fungus that causes WNS is
transmitted a few different ways. Bats can catch the fungus from
physical contact with infected bats. Also, bats can pick up the fungus
from the surfaces of the cave or mine where they’re hibernating. Humans
can spread the fungus from one hibernaculum to another by accidentally
carrying the fungus on shoes, clothing, or gear. So it’s really
important to not bring clothing or gear into a WNS-free site that was
previously used in a WNS-affected site. For this reason, it’s crucial to
correctly remove the fungus from your gear and shoes before and after
entering caves. Learn how to decontaminate your caving gear.
How WNS Affects Human Health
Current evidence indicates that WNS is not transmissible from bats to
humans. Studies have shown that the fungus grows only at cold
temperatures (41-68 degrees F) that are much lower than that of the
human body. Also, no human infections have ever been documented after
exposure to WNS-infected bats or caves.
Although WNS does not cause illness in humans, a small percentage of bats can be infected with other dangerous diseases, such as rabies. Bats infected with either WNS or rabies may exhibit unusual behavior (e.g. erratic flying), which increases the risk for bat-human contact and exposure. Additionally, declines in bat populations can impact human health indirectly since humans depend on bats for important ecosystem services such as controlling pest insects.
If you need help with Humane Wildlife Removal, contact us today.
Reprinted from CDC
Bats play an important role in our ecosystem. However, they are also associated with diseases deadly to humans. Learn how you can stay safe when bats are near.
Diseases Spread by Bats
Several highly fatal diseases have been linked to bats.
Rabies is perhaps the most well known disease associated with bats. Along with animals such as dogs, foxes, raccoons, and skunks, bats are one of the primary animals that transmit rabies.
An exposure to rabies most commonly occurs when a person is bitten by a rabid animal. It can also be transmitted when the saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with a person’s mouth, eyes, nose, or a fresh wound.
When a person is exposed to rabies, timely administration of a vaccine known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent infection. Once a person becomes infected and symptoms begin to occur, rabies is almost always fatal. Each year in the United States, up to 30,000 persons receive PEP due to potential exposure to a rabid animal, including bats.
Histoplasmosis is another disease associated with bats. Its symptoms vary greatly, but the disease primarily affects the lungs. Occasionally, other organs are affected. When this happens it can be fatal if untreated.
In addition, Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus that grows in soil and material contaminated with droppings from animals, including bats. Droppings, also known as bat guano, can contaminate the soil and cause infectious spores to be released when the soil is disturbed.
Even though it can be found throughout the world, it is widespread in certain areas of the U.S. and can be found in places that harbor large populations of bats, including caves.
While most infected persons have no apparent ill effects, antifungal medications are used to treat many forms of the disease.
Bats and Diseases around the World
Even though rabies and histoplasmosis can be found all over the world, some diseases associated with bats are found exclusively in certain regions of the world. Notably, research suggests that bats might be the source of several hemorrhagic fevers, which affect multiple organ systems in the body and often lead to life-threatening diseases.
One of these diseases is Marburg hemorrhagic fever, which is found exclusively in Africa. Past outbreaks have shown that Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever kills up to 90% of those infected.
While the natural host had for years been unknown, new research suggests that fruit bats are a natural source of this virus, and the virus has been isolated repetitively from fruit bats in Uganda.
The same may be true for Ebola hemorraghic fever. The virus that causes this disease is often referred to as the “cousin” of Marburg virus, since they are the only distinct viruses that belong to a group of viruses known as filoviruses. Like Marburg, Ebola is highly fatal and is found mostly in Africa. Recent studies indicate that, as with Marburg, bats are likely to be a natural source of this virus, although no Ebola virus has been isolated from bats.
Two other viruses – Nipah (which causes Nipah virus encephalitis) and Hendra (which causes Hendra virus disease) – are also associated with bats. Research suggests that Hendra virus is associated with fruit bats (commonly called flying foxes) in Australia. Nipah and related viruses are also associated with the same group of bats in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, although outbreaks of disease in humans have so far been limited to Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Bangladesh. Both viruses can cause severe respiratory and neurologic disease in humans.
Another group of viruses known as coronaviruses have been detected in multiple species of bats. Coronavirus infection can sometimes cause mild respiratory illness in humans, but these viruses were also implicated in the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Southeast Asia. While bats do not carry or transmit SARS, research has linked coronaviruses to bats in countries all over the world.
In addition, Lyssaviruses have been discovered on every inhabited continent. This group of viruses causes rabies, in addition to other diseases that can be fatal to humans. While current rabies vaccines are effective against many of the viruses in this group, several Lyssaviruses identified in Africa and Asia primarily associated with bats cannot be prevented with current rabies vaccines.
Further studies may shed light on the role of bats as the source of these viruses and their ability to transmit diseases caused by these viruses to humans.
Stay Alert in Areas where Bats are Found
Many bats rely on cave roosts and are often found in groupings that can number in the millions. Cave explorers, spelunkers, divers, and others whose activities take them into or around caves should exercise caution when in these environments.
Make sure be on the lookout for bats, which often roost or hibernate at high points within caves. It is also important to avoid being near or coming into contact with bat droppings. When possible, avoid entering caves that are known to contain populations of bats.
In addition, it might be a good idea to bring a flashlight into the cave to help better identify the presence of bats or other animals. If bats are present in the immediate area, consider leaving the cave or moving to an area of the cave where there are no bats.
Some bats also roost in tree cavities or foliage, and might be spotted in areas where outdoor activities take place, such as hiking or camping. While there have been instances of humans exposed to rabid bats , most bats in a natural setting are not rabid and, in many outdoor situations, the presence or sighting of bats is common and normal.
However, precautions can be taken at outdoor locales to help minimize the risk of exposure to bats and their excretions:
When possible, prevent bats from entering outdoor living quarters and other occupied spaces. Consider “bat-proofing” your living space.
Screens or mosquito netting can provide a useful barrier against direct bat contact.
Teach children to never to handle live or dead bats, as well as any unfamiliar wild or domestic animals (even if they appear friendly). Tell them to report any contact or unusual animal behavior to an adult right away.
In some settings, materials contaminated with bat droppings may have to be disposed of or decontaminated. In these situations, local and state authorities can provide more information on the requirements for the removal, transportation, and disposal of contaminated material. Clean-up of areas contaminated with bat droppings should not be attempted by non-trained personnel, and proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirator, mask, gown, and gloves, should be worn by anyone handling the potentially infectious material.
Take Steps to Keep Bats Out of Your Home
Some bats live in buildings, and may continue to do so with little risk to inhabitants if they are unable to access living areas and the potential for contact with people is low.
However, bats should always be prevented from entering rooms of your home. As noted above, “bat proofing” your home or living quarters can prevent bats from using a home for a roosting site. For best results, contact an animal control or wildlife conservation agency and ask for assistance.
If you choose to do the “bat-proofing” yourself, here are some suggestions:
Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry into your living quarters.
Any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch should be caulked.
Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft-guards beneath doors to attics.
Fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking. Ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.
Most bats leave in the fall or winter to hibernate, so these are the best times to “bat-proof” your home. During summer, many young bats are unable to fly. If you exclude adult bats during this time, the young may be trapped inside.
Safely Capture Bats and Dispose of Dead Bats
If a bat is present in your home, contact us for assistance. It may be important to capture the bat for rabies testing, especially if a potential bite or exposure has occurred. Sometimes, professional help may be unavailable. In such cases, use precautions to capture the bat safely, as described below.
To begin, you will need:
leather work gloves (put them on)
small box or coffee can
piece of cardboard
The steps you should take to capture the bat are:
When the bat lands, approach it slowly, while wearing the gloves, and place the box or coffee can over it.
Slide the cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.
Tape the cardboard to the container securely, and punch small holes in the cardboard, allowing the bat to breathe.
When no potential exposure has occurred, the bat can be safely released outside. If a bite or exposure to saliva (e.g., into a person’s mouth, eyes, or a fresh wound) has occurred, your health department or animal-control authority should be contacted to make arrangements for rabies testing.
If you come across a dead bat, call animal control services to see if they can safely remove the animal. In some instances, such services might not be immediately available. Under these circumstances, follow the below steps to safely discard the dead bat.
Get a cardboard box or Tupperware container
Place it over the bat
Slide a cardboard or plastic lid under the box/container so that the bat is confined within.
Remove it from the area until animal control services can arrive to safely dispose of the bat.
Treatment After a Potential Exposure
If you are bitten or saliva from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or wounds, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical attention immediately.
Bats have small teeth that may leave marks not easily seen (see picture). Although many people know if they have been bitten by a bat, there are certain circumstances when a person might not be aware or able to tell if a bite has occurred. For example:
If a person awakes to find a bat in the room
If you find a bat in a room with an unattended child
If you see a bat near a person with a disability
If the above occurs, get immediate medical attention. In all circumstances, contact local or state health departments for assistance with medical advice and testing bats for rabies. When it cannot be ruled out that the bat is free from rabies and an exposure has occurred, (PEP) may need to be considered.
When bat droppings, saliva, or other secretions are believed to be nearby, closely monitor your health, especially any fever, chills, headache, or muscle pain.
If these symptoms appear after being in an area when bats might have been nearby, seek medical attention and be sure to note your presence in these areas. Be sure to also note any travel that has recently taken place, especially to African countries. This is especially important if it has been less than a month since a potential exposure to bats.
Living Safely With Bats
Even though bats sometimes spread diseases to people, they are able to peacefully co-exist with humans and provide us with many benefits.
Worldwide, bats are a major predator of night-flying insects, including pests that cost farmers billions of dollars annually. Throughout the tropics, seed dispersal and pollination activities by bats are vital to rain forest survival. In addition, studies of bats have contributed to medical advances including the development of navigational aids for the blind. Unfortunately, many local populations of bats have been destroyed and many species are now endangered.
The best protection we can offer these unique animals is to learn more about their habits and recognize the value of living safely with them.
Raccoons can be extremely dangerous, so contact us immediately if you one in your home.
Here are some tips to see if you have raccoons:
Is there anybody in there?
To determine if an opening is being used, block the hole loosely with wadded newspaper. Leave in place for two to three days.
If the newspaper goes undisturbed, and the weather has not been particularly cold or stormy, no one is using it as an entryway. If the newspaper is pushed out of place, someone has moved in.
Don’t try to trap and relocate the family yourself. It almost always leads to separation (and probably death) of the young raccoons, unless done by a professional who knows how to reunite mothers with their offspring. The reunion approach allows the mother move her young to another den site at her own pace.
→ Contact Canton Wildlife Removal to safely and humanely remove the raccoons and their young.
A note about raccoon waste:
In places where raccoons have lived for a long time, feces may have accumulated. Take care to avoid exposure to roundworm eggs, which can be found in raccoon feces. For safety’s sake, ideally, you should hire a professional service to clean up a raccoon latrine.
→ Canton Wildlife Removal offers powerwashing to clean up after removing animals.
Raccoons are quite dangerous. Raccoons can carry many serious diseases including rabies. Although incidents of rabid raccoons attacking humans are rare, you don’t want to risk your families health and safety. Raccoons carry two other diseases, roundworm and leptospirosis, that can also be transmitted to humans and pets. So if you suspect raccoons in your house, call us today: (774) 204-1776.
Reprinted from Mother Nature Network
Have you ever tried to outsmart a persistent squirrel?
Countless homeowners have bravely taken on this backyard battle. More often than not, the squirrel leaves the homeowner looking about as hapless as Wile E. Coyote in a war of wits with the Road Runner.
The inquisitive creatures are frustratingly adept at using their acrobatic antics to make seemingly impossibly long leaps onto bird feeders, sneak into newly planted gardens or gnaw, squirm or squeeze their way into attics.
The problem is worse than normal in some regions of the country this year. Parts of the eastern United States, for example, are experiencing what Paul Curtis, an extension wildlife specialist in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., calls a population eruption of the gray squirrel.
“The first sign of the problem was when reports of large numbers of road kills started coming in,” Curtis said. He added that he has also received anecdotal reports of large numbers of squirrels in the lower and central Hudson Valley and in Western Vermont, where they’ve wreaked havoc with fall apple crops.
The problem extends down the coast into the Mid-Atlantic states.
George Rambo, a pest management expert and owner of the franchise Critter Control Northern Virginia, says gray squirrels have produced an extra litter this year. Squirrels normally produce two litters a year, one in spring and one in fall. This year they produced a third litter in the summer, Rambo said.
Why so many squirrels?
“The population increase is likely caused by really good acorn crops,” Curtis said.
Rambo concurred, adding that the recent mild winter created an environment that led nut trees to produce bumper crops. “Plenty of food encourages animals to increase their populations, he said.
With more squirrels, there’s an increased risk that they will find their way into attics. At this point, they go from being a backyard nuisance to an indoor hazardous pest.
As they search for entry points, squirrels may damage siding, soffets, fascia boards, chimney flashing and even various types of exhaust fans. Once in the attic, they may build nests where they create a mess with droppings and urine. Even worse, they can chew through wires, creating a potential fire hazard, or destroy furniture or other household contents if they get into living areas.
Homeowners, however, can take heart.
“These population eruptions don’t tend to last long,” Curtis said. “Squirrels have a high mortality rate. Many only live a few months. And, while the past few years have been good for acorns and beechnuts, the forecast is not good for the population eruption to continue.”
Until nature takes care of the problem with a return to more normal winter weather and a drop in nut production, here are some steps homeowners can take to keep squirrels out of their attics.
Check the trees near your house
These tips apply to all trees and branches within jumping distance of the house, which is six to eight feet.
Prevent squirrels from climbing the tree by fastening a two-foot band of sheet metal around the trunk six to eight feet above ground.
To fasten the sheet metal, wrap wires around the trunk and attach them together with springs. (The springs will allow the sheet metal to spread as the tree grows.)
Trim limbs so that the nearest perch is at least six to eight feet from the house.
Inspect the house for attic entry points
Because attics often become too hot in the summer for squirrels to live in, summer is often the best time to block attic entry holes.
Look at the exterior of your house for any existing places where squirrels may have already entered the attic. Be aware that entry holes may be smaller than you expect. Rambo says a squirrel can get through an opening about the size of an adult fist.
Look for gaps and weak areas such as rot during the exterior inspection.
Inspect the interior of the attic. Light shining through from the outside could indicate a point of entry.
Seal all possible entrances securely and replace rotting wood, but be aware that squirrels can scratch and chew their way in despite your best efforts.
Seal openings at joints of siding and overhanging eaves.
Seal openings where utility cables or pipes enter buildings.
To seal entrances, securely fasten ¼-inch or ½-inch hardware cloth (available from hardware and box stores) over attic vents, a common entry point. Be sure to use a wire hardware cloth, not a mesh cloth.
Extend the hardware cloth 2 inches beyond the hole in all directions. This is a precaution to stop the squirrel from gnawing around it.
To secure the hardware cloth, use a staple gun, U nails or regular nails and re-enforce with sheet metal screws.
Spray the area with a proven repellant available at garden, hardware, pet or feed stores.
You can also use a homemade repellant by combining hot sauce and water at the rate of 1 tablespoon of sauce to 1 quart water.
Here’s another recipe for a hot pepper repellant:
One chopped yellow onion
One chopped Jalapeno pepper
One tablespoon of Cayenne pepper
Boil all ingredients for 20 minutes in two quarts of water. Let the mixture cool. Strain it through cheesecloth. Apply with a pesticide sprayer or a spray bottle. While this reportedly works against virtually all animals, it is only effective for three to five days.
Install caps on chimneys.
Check for gaps in the flashing at the chimney base.
Avoid trapping a squirrel in the attic
If you suspect squirrels have already entered your attic and you have found what appears to be their entry point, don’t accidentally block them inside. To determine whether the squirrels are inside or outside the house:
Ball up some newspaper and stuff it in the hole.
Wait two days. If the newspaper remains intact, there’s a good chance the squirrels are outside. In this case seal the hole.
If the newspaper is pushed away, here are some tips on how to capture and remove the intruder:
Set a live trap. (These are available from hardware stores.)
Cover the trap with a blanket or towel to reduce stress on the animal. Take the trap outside and release the squirrel in your yard near its entry point to the house. (Yes! You read this correctly.)
While this may sound self-defeating, relocating the animal to a distant habitat already occupied by other squirrels usually results in the death of the animal. Even if this seems justified because of the frustration the squirrel has caused, other squirrels will simply move into your yard. Squirrels are territorial, and the squirrel you’ve trapped and released that now cannot get back into the securely sealed attic will keep other squirrels out of your yard. However, be aware that they will try to re-enter the attic, which presents another problem if they are successful. Once a squirrel has been trapped once, it will be difficult to trap again, Rambo says,
Also, be aware that most states have permit and/or licensing laws and regulations that govern companies that do wildlife work. In Maryland, for instance, Jonathan Kays, an extension specialist for Natural Resources in the Western Maryland Research & Education Center at the University of Maryland Extension, points out that it is illegal to trap and transplant wildlife in Maryland without a permit. And, Rambo adds, not all “exterminators” are permitted or licensed. He suggested that people looking for an exterminator make sure the person they hire is licensed or permitted in nuisance wildlife work and that they show proof of insurance and any warranties that come with the work. In most states, the permit is given to individual technicians and not the company that employs them, he adds.
What if there’s a nest with babies in the attic?
If a squirrel has built a nest in the attic that is not detected until there are babies, there are several options to remove the mother and infants.
This requires patience. Wait until the babies have left the nest. This usually tales 12-14 weeks. Then seal the entry hole.
This requires several steps but gets the mother to remove the babies herself:
- Locate the nest.
- Gently use a pole and pull the top off or slide the nest about a foot.
- Place a radio set to an all-talk station about 6 feet from the nest.
- Toss an ammonia-soaked rag tied with string or fishing line near the nest.
- The mother will move the babies, usually very quickly if she has an alternate nest site.
This requires a phone call … to an exterminator.
Of course, you can always call an exterminator to begin with rather than go the do-it-yourself route. But, whatever you do, don’t use poison. Beside potential danger to children and pets, the squirrel could die in the attic. And then your problems will get much worse.