Bats and RabiesAgency: Community Health
Bats are a beneficial species. They are an important part of any local ecosystem, with some species eating significant numbers of potential agricultural pests such as beetles and moths. Bats are often toted by bat conservation groups as natural mosquito control agents, but in reality, bats probably do not play a significant role in the control of mosquito populations. Mosquitoes represent a meager meal for most bat species, and since mosquitoes prefer the cover of foliage, are not readily available to hunting bats. While the conservation message is a good one, and bats are a protected species in
Bats are the animal most often found to be rabid in
In many of the human rabies cases caused by a bat-stain of the virus, there was no known history of a bite from a bat. For that reason, bats represent a special concern. Bats have very small teeth, and a bite from a bat may not be felt. Any direct contact with a bat represents a potential exposure to rabies. Other situations that might qualify as exposures include finding a bat in the same room as a person who may not be aware that contact has occurred, such as finding a bat in the room with a sleeping person, a child, or someone who is mentally disabled or intoxicated. If you think you may have been exposed to rabies from a bat, please DO NOT LET THE BAT GO. In these instances, you should safely collect the bat until the need for rabies testing has been evaluated. Wearing leather gloves, place a coffee can or box over the bat, then use a piece of cardboard with holes punched in it to slide under the can or box, taping this cover firmly to the container.
Contact your local health department or animal control agency to discuss the need for testing. The bat must be humanely euthanized before it is submitted for testing [See the following link for instructions on how to humanely euthanize a bat]. If the bat tests negative for the presence of rabies virus, then no treatment for the exposed person is required. If the bat tests positive for rabies, or the bat is not available for testing then the exposed person should receive rabies