FONDA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A health department in New York State is raising awareness about recent reports of bat exposures in the area. Bats are present throughout New York in both rural and urban areas.

Bats can carry rabies, warns Montgomery County Public Health. Keeping bats out of your home is the first step to protecting yourself, your family, and your pets against rabies.

Keeping bats out of your home

To bat-proof your home, you can use polypropylene bird netting, fly screening, sheet metal, wood, or caulking compounds to close or cover openings that allow bats to roost, said Montgomery County Public Health. Bats like to roost in attics, behind shutters, under roofing or under siding, under a porch roof, between the house and chimney, vents, rafters, behind hallow walls, and in other sheltered areas.

If you think bats are roosting in your home, watch for them leaving at dusk and seal off any crevices you see. Montgomery County Public Health said bats can enter through crevices as small as a pencil.

The best time to bat-proof is in the late fall through winter. You can also hire bat control specialists in your area.

Avoiding contact with bats

Montgomery County Public Health said bats with rabies quickly show signs. You should avoid contact with any bat, especially one that is outdoors during the daylight, on the ground, or paralyzed.

Bats rarely attack people, but any physical contact with a rabid bat may transmit the disease. In situations where a bat bite could go undetected, such as a bat found in the same room as someone who is sleeping, you should try to capture the bat without touching it.

If indoors, make sure to close windows, room, and closet doors, turn on lights and wait for the bat to land. While wearing heavy gloves, capture the bat with a pail, coffee can, or similar container.

If the bat is not captured or tests positive for rabies, every person that could have been exposed should receive rabies post-exposure treatment. You should call your local health department if you may have been exposed.