Rabid bats have been caught in a Long Island town by the state Dept. of Health, and officials in Suffolk County are warning residents to be on alert.
The Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services said it was notified by state health officials that three bats collected between Monday and Thursday in the Township of Islip tested positive for rabies.
The bats were caught in the towns of Sayville, Islip Terrace and Islip, officials said.
“Given that we have had three test positive in close proximity within days is reason for enhanced caution,” health commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said in a statement.
In any year, three to six percent of the local bat population tests positive for rabies, Tomarken said, but residents should take caution given the number of bats testing positive in close proximity and in such a short period of time.
New York State and Suffolk County require that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against the rabies virus, which can spread to humans.
The health department said residents should stay away from wild animals, keep pets indoors at night, avoid putting food in their yards and teach children not to touch any animal they do not know.
To keep bats out of buildings and homes, don’t leave unscreened windows or doors open, make sure chimneys are capped and plumbing openings are plugged, and seal up all openings large than ½ inch by ½ inch, the department said.