Special Report filed by AAF Correspondent: Scott TingleyAnimal Attack Files Special Report
from The Battlaion

      Bat bites student in Texas A&M U. library

Updated 12:00 PM ET October 18, 2000

By Brady Creel The Battalion Texas A&M U.

(U-WIRE) COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A Texas A&M University student was bitten on the toe of her left foot Tuesday by a bat that is part of a colony of several hundred bats residing in the sixth floor of the Sterling C. Evans Library.

According to a report issued by Lane Stephenson, deputy director of University Relations, the student was bitten by a Mexican freetail bat about 1:45 p.m. while studying on the fourth floor of the library.

The student was taken by library staff members for treatment at the A.P. Beutel Health Center, and subsequently to St. Joseph's Regional Health Center in Bryan. The name of the student has not been released.

Stephenson said the bat involved in the biting was captured and taken to the Small Animal Clinic of the College of Veterinary Medicine for rabies testing. It has not been determined whether the bat is infected with rabies.

The report stated that the first report of bats came Monday, and that 200 to 400 bats were spotted. By Monday evening, Physical Plant Pest Control had removed between 300 and 350 bats.

Charles Gilreath, associate university librarian for advanced students, said in a press release that the problem has been reported to the office of Vice President for Administration Charles Sippial.

Gilreath said that the library's first goal is to seal the avenues into the building to stop the bats from entering, and then do an environmental clean up to remove smell from the sixth floor.

The University Relations press release said Brent Maddox, manager of the environment health and safety department reported that no public health hazard existed.

Removal of the bats resumed Tuesday morning and about 50 were caught before the student was bitten.

Stephenson said he did not believe the arrival of bats was associated with the recent completion of renovations to the library.

"The renovation is completed, but I don't think there is any relationship, but I am not an authority on that," Stephenson said.

The library remains open, but is lined with posters warning patrons about the bats. As of Tuesday evening, workers were still trying to contain the bats. A few persistent students were still studying on the sixth floor, where most of the bats are located.

"We will take more precautionary measures to seal it off," Stephenson said.

When asked if the bats had seriously disrupted the sixth floor, a student worker in the library said "not really."

"We just get the cranky girls saying 'Oh my God,'" he said.

He said the sixth floor is still being reassembled from the renovation project and several sections of the floor are closed for work.

Gilreath said in the press release that students should remain calm and that is a student feels uncomfortable going to the sixth floor to get library material, they can make requests for the items at the main circulation desk.

Eric Zimmerman, a Brazos County agent of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, said bats are not normally aggressive.

"Very, very seldom are bats aggressive," he said. "Unless it was provoked or there was a commotion, I find it odd that she would get bitten, especially in the area of the foot."

Stephenson was unable to offer any details about how the biting happened.

Zimmerman said some Texas caves have as many as 20 million bats living in them, but despite the large bat population, the incidence of rabies is relatively low.

"Bat bites should always be considered potential exposure (to rabies) and treated accordingly," he added.

Zimmerman said the Mexican freetail bat migratory. Its body is about 4 inches long with a wingspan of 11 to 13 inches. He said that this species is the most common bat found in urban areas.

In the meantime, Gilreath asks students to remain calm and to not attempt to capture the bats.

(C) 2000 The Battalion via U-WIRE

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