Bat Droppings and Dangers
More often than not, where there is one bat there are many. They live in colonies and these colonies are going to produce large amounts of guano. Due to their metabolism, an individual bat can excrete 20 or more times a day. All feces can contain bacteria and disease, but bat guano can contain a particular fungus that can cause a serious infection in people who are exposed to it. This fungal infection is known as histoplasmosis.
What is histoplasmosis?
Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection that is caused by the inhalation of spores from the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus. In mild cases, the symptoms of this infection can resemble that of a severe flu and the person may never even realize that they have histoplasmosis. These symptoms can include a cough, body aches, and fever. In severe cases, it can resemble the tuberculosis infection resulting in hospitalization and antifungal medication being required.
How is it contracted?
Bats become infected with the fungus and then it is present in their feces. The guano provides the perfect medium for the fungus to grow and reproduce. The spores of the fungus are made airborne, and able to be inhaled when people enter the space where it is present and stir up the spores by trying to clean up the area or the soil that contains the fungus. This can include a garden where bat guano is present or in an attic when bats have decided to make their home there. Attics can provide a good environment for the fungus to grow because it is dark, warm, and holds a lot of moisture.
How is histoplasmosis diagnosed and who is at risk for this infection?
There is an average incubation period of around 10 days before the symptoms begin to present themselves. If a person thinks that they may have been exposed to this fungus, it is necessary that they seek medical attention as soon as possible. It can be difficult to diagnose because of the infection’s tendency to resemble other things. The most accurate tissue test will take time to come back and the person will be getting medical treatment before the test comes back. If this treatment is delayed it could cause the infection to become severe and cause lasting problems.
There are certain people who have an elevated risk of contracting it. It is possible for anyone who is exposed to contract the disease, but people of certain occupations may be exposed more often. HVAC professionals, construction workers, and roofers are the types of occupations that are going to come into contact with it more than others. Also, people who already have a compromised immune system due to preexisting conditions are at a higher risk for a severe infection.
How to prevent the infection from happening
The best way to avoid this illness is to avoid exposure in the first place. If a bat infestation is suspected, the best solution is to call a professional who will be well-versed in the ways of removal and cleaning up the mess that they leave behind. Professionals will have the best methods and products available in order to deal with the problem and keep a family safe from this nuisance pest.