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Many people have a negative impression of bats. Aside from their scary faces, many people know that bats carry rabies, and so tend to stay away from them. However, there’s a lesser- known danger associated with bat droppings (guano). Exposure to guano may result in histoplasmosis, a disease that may result in a series of respiratory problems. In this post, we’re going to explore the dangers associated with histoplasmosis.
Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. The fungus lives in the environment, especially in the soil that contains large amounts of bat or bird droppings.
While anyone can contact histoplasmosis, those with occupations with greater exposure to guano have a greater risk. Examples include construction workers, chimney cleaners, HVAC installers, cave explorers, and more. Also, people with a weak immune system are especially vulnerable to histoplasmosis.
So, yes, you should be concerned if you have bat droppings in your attic, chimney, or any other place around your house.
Bat droppings are strikingly similar to rodent droppings. However, the biggest distinction is when you attempt to crush it. If you do, bat droppings will become powdery with a shiny texture (from the ingested insects).
So, when guano is agitated, it breaks down into a powder and thus, becomes airborne. This infection is caused by breathing spores of a fungus found in these airborne particles. Because of this, do not touch bat dropping as it can agitate it and cause spores to become airborne. Also, if don’t wash your hands afterward, you may mistakenly get the feces in your mucous membrane and ingest it.
Most people who are infected with this fungus have no symptoms. However, the risk is significantly increased if exposure is sustained or you have a weak immune system. Typically, symptoms begin to show up about 10 days after exposure. Possible symptoms may include dry cough, fever, joint pain, and chest pain. In severe cases, symptoms may include shortness of breath, excessive sweating, and coughing up blood.
In rare cases, histoplasmosis can be fatal. That’s why it is important to get treatment as soon as possible. Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), meningitis, heart function issues, adrenal glands, and hormone problems are complications that may arise from histoplasmosis.
If you have a significant pile of guano in your attic or chimney, disturbing the pile will result in a haze of the pernicious dust. So, how do you safely get rid of the droppings?
First, you have to wear protective clothing and hand gloves. Second, experts recommend wearing a mask that can filter particulate matter of one milli-micron. This helps to ensure that you do not inhale the spores into your lungs. Also, spraying a mist of water before you start can reduce the amount of dust. Thereafter, you can pack the droppings into a nylon bag. It can then be disposed of at the appropriate landfill. Do not forget to clean your equipment once you’re done.
Once you’ve dealt with the bat droppings, you have to put measures in place to ensure the same problem doesn’t repeat itself. This includes locating all potential entry holes and sealing them off.
As you’ve seen, it is dangerous to touch or inhale bat droppings, as it may result in histoplasmosis. This condition may result in several respiratory problems. That’s why when dealing with guano, it is important to wear the right protective gear to stay safe. Removing bat guano is a risky endeavor. That’s why it is usually better to get a professional involved, especially if you have no experience with it. Your health and those of your family should be the only priority.