Home and business owners in Southern California can face a variety of different types of animal infestation situations. The more commonplace types of animal infestation in this part of the country include rats, mice, birds, and bats. If you find yourself in a situation involving a bat infestation, there are some facts and factors that you need to bear in mind. Among these considerations is the necessity for basic information about bat infestation cleanup. In this regard, some basic information about a few specific fundamental matters associated with bat infestation cleanup is crucial:
- Diseases transmitted by bats
- How and why histoplasmosis is dangerous
- Specialized strategies and tactics for bat infestation cleanup
Diseases Transmitted Bats
There are different diseases that can be transmitted to humans by exposure to bats. These include:
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS
As of this time, only histoplasmosis is transmitted via bat guano or bat feces. Thus, for the purposes of this discussion, the focus will be on histoplasmosis.
How and Why Histoplasmosis is Dangerous
Histoplasmosis is an infection that humans contract through inhaling spores of a fungus that typically is found in bird and bat droppings. A histoplasmosis infection sometimes is called bat guano disease. In most cases, histoplasmosis impacts only the lungs.
Humans breathe in these spores under two commonplace situations. First, people inhale these spores when they are cleaning up bat droppings and bird droppings. Second, they also commonly breathe in these spores when they are involved in some sort of renovation or remodeling project. The possibility also exists to inhale these fungal spores by working in or around contaminated soil.
There are geographic areas in the United States at which histoplasmosis infections are more commonplace. At the present time, prime areas do not include California, including Southern California.
The most commonplace geographic areas in which people contract histoplasmosis include the Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley. Histoplasmosis is also more commonplace in Africa, Asia, Australia, and in parts of Central and South America. With that said, residents of Southern California and elsewhere in the state can still contract histoplasmosis infections.
Many people who end up with a histoplasmosis infection experience no symptoms whatsoever. Some individuals do experience symptoms, which in some cases can become serious. Infants and people with compromised immune systems are those most likely to experience more serious symptoms associated with histoplasmosis.
A small number of people with histoplasmosis infections end up with a rash and joint pain.
Histoplasmosis is a treatable condition. With that said, individuals suffering from histoplasmosis who also have lung disease like emphysema may develop what is known as chronic histoplasmosis. Chronic histoplasmosis may persist for an extended period of time.
There are times in which histoplasmosis is misdiagnosed. Some of the symptoms of histoplasmosis are confused with those associated with tuberculosis.
A less frequently seen type of this disease is called disseminated histoplasmosis. Disseminated histoplasmosis usually afflicts infants and individuals with compromised immune systems. When disseminated histoplasmosis occurs, the disease can spread beyond the lungs to nearly any part of a person’s body. These include:
- Central nervous system
- Adrenal glands
If not treated in a timely manner disseminated histoplasmosis is usually fatal.
Specialized Tactics and Strategies for Bat Infestation Cleanup
Once you’ve managed to eliminate bats from your home or business, the cleanup process needs to commence immediately. Bat guano or feces cleaning can prove particularly hazardous because of the possibility for fungal spores associated with histoplasmosis becoming airborne and inhaled. For this reason, suitable personal protective equipment or PPE is crucial. This includes:
- Respirator or HEPA mask
- Protective eyewear
Unlike rodents, bats defecate in what fairly can be called latrines. In other words, if you have bats infesting your attic, you’ll find large piles of bat guano or feces in noticeable locations in the space. On the other hand, rodents defecate wherever they happen to be at a particular moment in time.
Care must be taken when removing bat feces from a space in your home or business. You must protect against causing fungal spores that may be contained in the guano or feces from becoming airborne to a more significant degree.
Prior to actually removing bat feces, a recommended course is to dampen them with a disinfecting solution. For example, you can use a solution of 1-part chlorine bleach to 9-parts water.
Allow the solution to saturate the guano for about 20 minutes and then the actual removal process can commence. You need to bear in mind that if you’ve had bats in your attic or somewhere else on your property for a more extended period of time, the amount of bat feces can be astonishingly great. You literally will need a shovel to make the first pass at removing this waste.
You also need to appreciate that if bats infested your attic, which is the most likely location for this type of infestation, insulation is also likely to be contaminated. Insulation cannot be cleaned and will need to be removed safely.
Once the bulk of the bat feces is eliminated by shoveling or a similar process, there will remain smaller amounts of the guano that will need to be removed. This can be accomplished using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Bat guano can be considered biohazardous waste. Thus, it needs to be disposed on in a manner permitted by local ordinances or rules in your community as well as state law. Towards this end, it needs to be stowed in an approved type of biohazardous waste container after removal from an attic or other space.
After all bat feces are fully eliminated, the contaminated area needs to be sanitized. The type of chlorine solution referenced previously can be used for this purpose. In addition, there are commercially available sanitization agents or solutions that can be purchased through retailers like Home Depot.
Bat feces emit a truly foul stench. For this reason, deodorization is also a necessary part of the process. This requires the use of specialized deodorizing agents capable of combating more strident odors.
In the final analysis, a typical homeowner or business owner lacks the experience, tools, equipment, and other resources necessary to thoroughly and safely undertake bat infestation cleanup of this nature. Thus, the recommended course for a home or business owner is to obtain the services of an experienced bat infestation cleanup company.