What are the Health Risks of Bat Guano?

While health risks from bats are often exaggerated, bat droppings (also called guano) pose several credible health risks. Bat guano provides a nutrient-rich environment that promotes the growth of several disease organisms. This is particularly true of accumulated bat droppings. 

In this article, we explore some of the more severe health risks of bat guano and bat repellents and other strategies for getting rid of nuisance bats. 

Histoplasmosis: the significant health risks of bat guano

What is Histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is the most serious health risk posed by bat guano. It is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. This fungus thrives in a soil environment that contains a large number of accumulated bat droppings.

How is Histoplasmosis Transmitted?

When bat droppings accumulate and dry up, they promote the growth of Histoplasma. One way to distinguish bat dropping from rodent dropping is to crush the dropping. If it gives a shiny texture, it’s bat droppings. The insects consumed by bats cause this glossy texture.

When accumulated bat guano is perturbed, the fungal spores become airborne and can be inhaled by humans and pets alike. That’s why extreme care must be taken when clearing bat guano, like wearing appropriate clothing and a face mask. In fact, it is best to leave bat guano clean up to professionals. 

Risk Factors

Occupations with potential exposure to guano are at a greater risk of contracting histoplasmosis. Examples include chimney cleaners, construction workers, cave explorers, and HVAC installers, among many others. People with a weak immune system are also susceptible to histoplasmosis. 

And if you have bat guano in your attic, chimney, wall, or property, you should be concerned. It would help if you took action as soon as possible. Visit batremoval.org to learn about bat removal and clean-up processes.

Symptoms and Health Impacts

Common symptoms of histoplasmosis include cough, fever, chills, fatigue, headache, body aches, and chest pain. These symptoms typically appear within 3 to 17 days after inhaling the fungus. Unfortunately, these symptoms mask the underlying condition, and it sometimes requires a CT scan or X-ray scan to diagnose histoplasmosis. Thankfully, histoplasmosis does not spread from person to person. 

In those with a weakened immune system, histoplasmosis can develop into a long-term lung infection or even spread into other body parts such as the central nervous system (the spinal cord and brain). What’s more, complications like Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), heart function issues, meningitis, hormone problems, and adrenal glands may arise from histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis can be fatal if left untreated. 

Medication

Thankfully, histoplasmosis can be cured by Itraconazole, one type of fungal medication. Treatment duration typically ranges from 3 months to 1 year, depending on the person’s immune status. 

How to Handle Bat Guano

Now that you know the significant health risk of bat guano, you know how important it is to get rid of it. Here are DIY steps to getting rid of bat guano:

First off, ensure you wear protective clothing and hand gloves. Experts at Frank’s Wildlife Removal recommend using a mask that can filter particulate matter of one milli-microns to ensure you do not inhale fungal spores. 

After that, spray the infected area with water to reduce the amount of dust. Thereafter, scrape off the surface with a shovel to pick up the droppings and put them in a plastic bag. Seal off the bag and dispose of it properly. Then you must decontaminate the entire space with an enzyme-based cleaner to kill the remaining harmful bacteria. Thereafter, apply a powerful deodorizer to eliminate the pungent odor. 

As you can see, the clean-up can be pretty complicated. That’s why involving a professional is your best bet!

Preventing bat guano

If you never want bat guano on your property, you must ensure your property is not conducive to bats. Locate entry holes to potential roosting sites (like the attic, chimney, within walls, etc.) and seal them off with caulk. 

Other health risks posed by bats

Rabies

Bats are one of the most commonly reported rabid animals in the United States. They are the leading cause of rabies-related deaths in the US. You expose yourself to the risk of rabies when you come in contact with bodily fluid (like saliva) or scratch from a rabid bat. That’s why you must also get rid of bats from your property.

Wrap up

Histoplasmosis is the major health risk posed by bat guano. They arise when a person inhales fungal spores from bat droppings and can cause severe respiratory problems. Rabies is also a less common health risk posed by bat guano with fatal consequences if left untreated. That’s why bat guano clean-up is essential. Being a risky endeavor, it’s best to involve experts to deal with nuisance bats. Natural repellents like mothball, white phenol, cinnamon, and eucalyptus can help keep bats away for good.