Creighton students and staff have had repeated spooky encounters with unwelcome nocturnal guests in recent weeks.
Reports of bats in various locations on and off campus have been circulating for some time now.
These murmurs have raised concerns in terms of student well-being, the rabies virus and pest control.
According to Public Safety, bat disturbances have been reported in St. John’s Church, Creighton Hall and even the library.
Head crime prevention officer, Tim Herron stated, “The bat reports this year have been pretty similar to years past. Although, we have had a few close calls in an office and swooping down in the library.”
Herron mentioned that they have received eight calls regarding bats since the start of the semester.
“When we get a call, we immediately bring safety equipment, and then if we are lucky and the bat is still present, we collect it.”
Public safety has two options to handle the creature: they either get it tested for rabies or let it go into the wild.
On Sunday, Sept. 15, at the start of Candlelight mass in St. John’s, three bats were reported dive-bombing church-goers.
Nora Larkin, a junior nursing student, recalled, “It was pretty comical. Through the entirety of the mass, maybe three different bats flew inside, causing students to duck and dive in the middle of the first reading. I even watched people get up and leave mid-service!”
Liturgy Coordinator Chase Becker said that he had to open the doors and hope the creatures flew outside.
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, “Fifteen animals have tested positive for rabies so far this year, 12 of them bats.”
Of these cases, some have been reported to be in the metro area, which is near campus and off-campus housing.
Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system. This disease is fatal and is spread from animal to human through saliva.
Jack Carmody, a junior in the Heider College of Business, mentioned that his house near Gifford Park had several close calls with bats.
“One word describes the experience best: traumatizing,” Carmody said. “Waking up to a bat soaring through the airwaves of my bedroom is just something indescribable.”
Carmody expressed frustration regarding how bats were able to enter his home, and also that this led to a series of hospital visits.
Carmody is not alone, as several students in the surrounding neighborhood have claimed to have bats in their homes.
Every year, preventative treatment in the Emergency Room at CHI Health Clinic is a reality for some students.
“This is the typical time of year that bat exposures occur,” said Dr. Nathan Haecker, Student Health Education and Compliance director. “Every year we see a number of students who have been exposed to bats and are seeking medical advice. There may be a heightened awareness this year since there have been several documented cases of bats with rabies in the metro area.”
The vaccine is given to “people at high risk of rabies to protect them if they are exposed” and “it can also prevent the disease if it is given to a person after they have been exposed,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A series of shots is critical in the rabies vaccination process. To begin, the first dose entails getting four shots of vaccine and one shot of Rabies Immune Globulin. Immune Globulin is a solution that contains antibodies to help protect against various diseases. Additional doses should begin on the third, seventh and 14th days following the initial dose.
This preventive process totals seven shots depending on whether an individual had been previously vaccinated.
Bats are a unique species and scientists have categorized them in their own group called “Chiroptera” which translates to “hand-wing.”
These critters can enter buildings through roofs, rafters, vents, chimneys and siding. Their bodies can fit into crevices as small as five-eighths inches in diameter.
According to Angela Maynard at the CHI Health Clinic, bat season has officially begun.
“Bat exposures tend to increase at this time of year when bats begin to move indoors as they seek shelter for the winter," Maynard said.
Lizzy Curran, a global programs coordinator for the University, stated, “Tales of bat-sightings were circulating amongst the Creighton Hall faculty and staff as the semester began, but as with most spooky rumors, one never thinks that such a thing could happen to them.”
Curran was minding her business one Wednesday morning when something looked rather unusual in her office - objects had been knocked over in her room.
“That’s when it happened. My fingers brushed a soft, fuzzy body and a panicked chirping sound filled my workspace. I screamed, let loose a few profanities and flew into the break room as my colleagues gathered around to see what all the commotion was.”
This is not an unprecedented occurrence, either.
“Bats have plagued Creighton Hall for some time,” Curran said.
This past week, two junior students expressed being in close proximity to bats.
Maya Mathews, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, mentioned she had an encounter with a bat on the main floor of Reinert-Alumni Memorial Library on Tuesday.
“I didn’t have my glasses on and was walking towards my table when I saw a brown lump on the ground,” Mathews said. “I accidentally stepped on the side of its wing, it shrieked and it flew away.”
“Reinert/Creighton definitely has a bat problem and I will be avoiding the library for a while!” Mathews added.
In short, bats should be taken seriously as they are leaders in carrying the rabies virus.