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What is rabies and how do people get it?
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of an animal with rabies (a rabid animal). Any wild mammal, like a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to people. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.
Because rabies is a fatal disease, the goal of public health is, first, to prevent human exposure to rabies by education and, second, to prevent the disease by anti-rabies treatment if exposure occurs. Tens of thousands of people are successfully treated each year after being bitten by an animal that may have rabies. A few people die of rabies each year in the United States, usually because they do not recognize the risk of rabies from the bite of a wild animal and do not seek medical advice.
Bat bugs are bloodsucking insects. They are free-living parasites (parasites) of bats, but they will bite humans in the absence of their primary hosts.
All members of the family Cimicidae are small, oval-shaped, and extremely flattened if they have not fed recently. After feeding, their body appears plump and dark-colored from the blood meal. All have small, stubby, non-functional wing pads. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts that appear beak-like.
It is important to be able to differentiate bat bugs from other cimicids because effective control relies on eliminating their primary host (bats). Bat bugs and bed bugs are practically indistinguishable to the naked eye, even to a trained entomologist. Microscopic examination is needed to tell them apart. Adults of both are about ¼ to 3/8 inch long and reddish-brown. A distinguishing feature is that the fringe hairs on the pronotum (the upper covering of the thorax) of the bat bug are as long or longer than the width of the eye, but are shorter in the bed bug.
Adult bat bugs may survive for a year or more without a meal in cool environments, but blood feeding is required by the female in order to produce eggs. The females lay eggs on rough surfaces and in cracks, usually in the same areas where the bugs hide. Eggs hatch in one to two weeks, and nymphs can feed immediately. Nymphs must acquire a blood meal in order to molt. Younger nymphs are practically colorless unless they have fed, in which case the blood meal creates a highly visible dark spot in their digestive tract. The exoskeleton becomes darker as the bug matures.
Development from egg to adult averages 1.5 months, but developmental rates vary depending on food availability and environmental factors. Development from egg to adult may take from 2 weeks in warm, favorable conditions to more than 15 weeks in less favorable conditions. Multiple generations may occur within a year, since bat bugs can continue to breed throughout the season in the warmth of a structure.
Bat bugs feed on all of the common bats, but they are most frequently associated with the big and little brown bats, which roost in colonies. Although bats are their primary host, these bugs also may feed on alternative hosts including birds and rodents. Bat bugs will bite humans in the absence of their primary hosts.
Bat bugs hide in dark, protected sites and they prefer tight, narrow retreats. Bat bugs typically are found in cracks and crevices in bat roosting areas, rather than on the hosts themselves, but they make repeated visits to the host to obtain a blood meal.
Typically, bat bug infestations originate from bat populations established in attics, wall voids, unused chimneys, or uninhabited portions of the house. Bat bugs typically do not wander far from occupied bat roosting sites where they have easy access to food.
Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus found primarily in the areas drained by the. Both humans and animals can be affected. The disease is transmitted to humans by airborne fungus spores from soil contaminated by Bats. Although almost always associated with soil, the fungus has been found in droppings (particularly from bats) alone, such as in an attic.
Infection occurs when spores, carried by the air are inhaled, especially after a roost has been disturbed. Most infections are mild and produce either no symptoms or a minor influenza- like illness. On occasion, the disease can cause high fever, blood abnormalities, pneumonia and even death.
People get fleaborne typhus from an infected flea. Most fleas defecate while biting; the feces of infected fleas contain the bacteria that cause the disease. The bacteria enter the body at the time of the bite wound or from scratching of the bite area. It is possible to get typhus by inhaling contaminated, dried flea feces. However, this method of transmission is not as common as transmission from a biting flea.