We were reading today’s Central Station Newsletter, when this leapt out at us:

Although the current heat wave may not last for long, please remember to lock doors and windows, especially if located on ground floors or near accessible areas. Most daytime burglaries and night time “hot prowl” burglaries occur via unlocked doors or windows. With summer approaching, now is a good time to check window locks and screens. Some locks allow for windows to stay open and lock into place, too small for a person to crawl through. Remember too that despite being an urban area, we have lots of bats in the City. Screens allow for ventilation but can keep bats outside where they belong. Each year the Department of Public Health puts out warnings. If you suspect you have been bitten but do not have the bat, you may be subject to unnecessary and painful preventative treatment for rabies.

And he’s not kidding: here’s a DPH release from last October, which warns “Rabies vaccine is currently in short supply due to renovations of a vaccine production facility
and insufficient stockpiles.” The release also notes “In San Francisco, 12 cases (1-5 cases each year) of non human rabies have been reported since 2004. All occurred in bats.”

The release urges you to call ACC, which notes, on its site, “There have been several positive rabid bats in San Francisco over the past few years. Because of this, all cats that are adopted or redeemed from ACC are given a rabies vaccination.”

In a total panic, we called Deb Campbell at the ACC. She calmed us down, considerably. Despite the hot weather, they have actually not had any bat calls in the last 20 days. Deb also reminded us that we are on the fruit bat (insert Castro joke here) migratory path, so, yes, you may see bats flying around outside. Don’t freak out if you do — they’re a beneficial species, so just leave them alone.

We asked Deb what we should do if a bat ends up in our room at night (we have screenless windows, do as we say, not as we do), and she said, again, not to touch them, keep your pets away from them, and either find something to cover them (a big pot?) or leave the room and shut the door. Call ACC (554-6364) and they’ll come out right away. “We make these calls a priority” she said.

What about that rabies vaccine shortage? It was resolved on April 1. Whew.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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