AMES, Iowa (AP) — Six Iowa State University students living in a rented home in Ames have been vaccinated for rabies after officials learned they have collectively killed 23 bats in their house.
The students were vaccinated Tuesday night after Ames Animal Control supervisor Ron Edwards learned how many bats they had been exposed to, according to The Des Moines Register.
"With rabies being a fatal disease, you can't take any chances," Edwards said. "You could easily be in bed and have one of them bite you, and you wouldn't know."
Officials have tested one bat and found it wasn't infected with rabies.
The last time an Iowa resident was infected with rabies was 2002.
Twenty-one-year-old Quinn Nordland said a roommate found the first bat in the basement Aug. 30, and another one the next morning. The bats kept continuing to appear and the students would walk the hallways at night with tennis rackets to combat the animals.
"Slowly but surely, they kept coming. They started going through the vents and getting into other floors," Nordland said.
The students said the infestation has persisted despite reporting it to their landlord.
Mike Fresco of First Property Management said he initially didn't realize how many bats were found in the house. After learning there were so many, he hired Preferred Pest Management to find a solution to the problem.
That could be challenging because workers can't legally kill bats, which are a protected species in Iowa.
Nathan Teed, a pest control technician with Preferred Pest Management, said workers "encourage them to leave" by actions such as sealing up holes and installing nets in chimneys.
Nordland said that so far, the efforts aren't working.
"It's honestly gotten far worse. It used to just be they come out at night. Now they're out in the day and sleeping in our hallways. It's really a big fiasco," Nordland said.
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