Bats Invade Hornet’s Nest – Bat Infestation Causing Problems For Maury Middle School
Concerns from parents at Maury Middle School precipitated questions regarding the possible infestation of bats at Maury Middle School. According to information provided by parents, bats have been plaguing the school since the weather warmed up in late March. Though the situation has been brought to the attention of school administrators, it has been kept largely under wraps from the students and their parents, with only a handful of parents having recently become aware of the presence of bats inside the school, with those in the know asking not to be identified for fear of consequences for their students. Parents contend that staff has been rendered unable to speak on the issue, even though, they assert, that one staff member was recently bitten by a bat on the school premises.
Director of Facilities and Business Affairs for Jefferson County Schools, Michael Phagan, said that there is a situation with bats at Maury Middle School and that is has been addressed while school was out for Easter Holiday. The extent of the infestation is unknown, however it is believed to be contained to the sixth grade hallway. Clean Reflections has been contracted to address the bat guano ( feces) that is in the infested locations. Phagan said that it has, on occasion, seeped into the classrooms from the ceiling tile but the area was cleaned as soon as the guano was discovered. Ceiling tiles in the infested classrooms are being replaced and the point of entry is believed to have been identified and eliminated. In regard to bats inside the classrooms, Phagan stated that a couple have been found dead and one live bat did come in contact with a staff member. However, he directed questions regard a possible staff biting to school level administration who are still on Easter vacation. As far as a directive squelching the release of information to parents regarding the bats, Phagan said that staff was instructed not to discuss the situation in front of students but he was unaware of any policy concerning parents.
While parents are concerned about contact with bats, the clean up process has its own risks. Histoplasmosis, a lung infection that comes from contact with spores from bat or bird droppings, is prevalent in the area. The spores can become airborne during clean up and demolition projects like the one that took place at the school over the holiday weekend. Phagan said that there were no immediate plans to do air quality testing at the site but that he would contact Clean Reflections to get their input on the issue. No further information on possible testing was forth coming from the Department of Education and the Jefferson County Post has requested the results of any potential air quality testing.
According to Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of Histoplasmosis generally show up three to seventeen days from exposure. Symptoms include, fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, congestion and a dry cough. Those with impaired respiratory systems may notice more aggravated symptoms.