It’s a batty situation.
Five hundred University of Georgia students were shocked when they returned to campus for the spring semester earlier this month and found bats had taken over their dormitory.
“It’s very alarming,” student Eva Sardon told Fox 5 Atlanta.
“There was one in the lobby, and it was like on the floor, and then all of a sudden, it just got up and started flying at me, so I ran back to my room.”
The bats were first discovered Jan. 14 and are believed to have entered the Ogelthorpe House dorm — where students pay upwards of $3,000 for the semester — through a mechanical space on the roof of the building where school officials keep the boilers.
Since then, students have posted photos online showing bats hanging from their dorm room doors and in stairwells.
At one point, university officials had to close the building’s stairwells because of the infestation, according to Atlanta News First.
The latest sighting of the bats occurred Thursday, when a local pest control company found about 30 of them huddling in the rafters of the mechanical space, university officials said.
The pest control company now remains on standby in case students spot more bats.
It isn’t clear which species of bats have taken up residence in the dorm, but three species in Georgia are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, and therefore cannot be killed or hurt upon removal.
School officials said they are working to ensure no more winged creatures can enter the building.
As of Sunday, all of the known holes where bats could access the building were sealed, said Linda Kasper, the executive director of university housing, to Fox 5.
Officials have also installed a one-way valve in the rooftop mechanical space so that the winged creatures can get out of the dormitory but cannot enter again, according to WSB-TV.
But freshman Ella Jones said she believes the school should be doing more to protect her and her fellow students, who fear rabies.
“I don’t know how exterminating works, but I feel like there could be more done,” she told Atlanta News First.
She said she knows at least some of the bats could be a protected species but asked, “I go to school here, am I not a protected species? I sure hope I am.”
Georgia health officials say there is less than a 1% chance the bats inside the dorm carry rabies.
The Northeast Health District said in a statement that it is “in the process of collecting information and carrying out interviews with individuals identified as potentially at higher risk of exposure in order to make appropriate care recommendations.
“The need for post-exposure rabies vaccination is based on an individual’s specific circumstances, including what their contact with a bat may have been,” the health officials said.
The school is also working with local health authorities to give students information on possible exposure.
“We’ve been working with the Department of Public Health since last week, encouraging anyone who has had any contact with the bats, so everyone who lives in this building, everyone who has walked in this building, to take a survey,” Kasper said.
“From there, they’ve been connecting with people to recommend any health precautions that they need to take as a result of that.”
In the meantime, university officials said in a statement they “advise students not to touch a bat if they see one, but rather to notify the staff so it can be safely removed by the pest control contractors.”
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