Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) - The Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg announced today that they discovered some un-welcomed guests over the weekend.

"The biggest problem that you would run into with bats inside a structure would be to be in contact and possibly bitten and typically that's going to occur accidentally," said Wildlife Biologist, Jason Peeples.

In a statement released by Public Relations Director Jane Carson, she says the issue is probably related to a recent construction on the roof.

Peeples says a number of bat species carry rabies and that could cause some concern.

"Colonies that we've excluded in the past have ranged from five bats to several thousand that have lived in those colonies."

The hospital has yet to determine how many bats are in the building but says... "There have been no reports of injury or bites to patients, visitors or staff."

Carson says they are now working on trying to remove the bats safely.

Peeples says state law protects certain species and a licensed professional would need to be called in to do the removal.

"The species that we are concerned about here is the colonial nesting species and they tend to defecate a lot and they have a foul odor that is pretty recognizable. Depending upon the environment that they are in, the sensitivity of the area surrounding the area, a strategy could be implemented to get the bats out and prevent them from causing any problems."

He says bats usually get into common living areas by accident. He says sometimes they become disoriented by the light at night or in a specific area that they are in the attic of a home and find their way into another room.

"It would be an isolated circumstance, where a bat was present and the individual has no idea it was there and they inadvertently put their hand on it or their foot on it or something like that."

DHEC is working with the hospital to ensure that the bats are safely removed and that no patients are exposed.

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