Bats & Rabies
Rabies is a safety concern when coming in direct contact with bats. It is important that bats be handled carefully and correctly to avoid being bitten. It is also possible to be bitten by a bat while sleeping so it is important to proof sleeping quarters each night should you have them in your house.
Separating Fact From Fiction
Bats are very beneficial to our environment, and they can be a great asset to have outside your house eating thousands of mosquitos a night, but they can bite, and they can carry rabies so it can be dangerous to have them in your home, in bedrooms, or around unsuspecting pets, children or anyone else that may try to handle or play with them.
However, there are some misconceptions regarding bats and rabies, for instance, you cannot catch rabies from a bat by being in the same room, or by having bats in your attic. To contract rabies from a bat you would have to be bitten or exposed directly to infected saliva or nervous tissue.
It is also a fallacy that all bats are rabies "carriers". It is true however, that just like us, bats are able to catch rabies from another animal. And just like a raccoon, opossum or skunk, bats can then transmit the disease on to another animal via a bite wound or saliva.
Some Important Facts To Know About Bats And Rabies
Misconceptions aside, bats can and will bite, and you can contract rabies if a bat bites you, or even sometimes from coming into direct contact with an infected one - so there are some important things to know:
- Never handle a bat with your bare hands. You can see the bat's sharp teeth in this photo, and how easily this individual could be bitten. Keep children and pets away from bats too.
- Less than 1% of bats have rabies, but because rabies can be a deadly disease, you should take precautions to avoid exposure should you find one on the ground or loose in your home.
- You can contract rabies from bats by being bitten by the bat, coming into direct contact with its saliva, or coming into direct contact with any of the bat's neurological tissue, i.e., brain.
- Bat rabies is transmitted when a bat with rabies bites or scratches a person's skin. Even though a bat has razor sharp teeth, they are quite small and it can be hard to tell if you have been bitten by a bat. Most of the time, you will not even know or notice. Imagine two small scratches close to one another, imagine taking the wire twist tie off of a loaf of bread, strip the paper or plastic covering off, and scratch yourself with two small scratches 1/16" of an inch away and parallel to each other - that is what a bat bite looks like.
- If you've seen a bat in your home, follow safety and CDC guidelines; seek medical attention by contacting your local health departments epidemiology department immediately. This bat should be tested, and the health department may recommend that you undergo rabies post exposure treatment.
What To Do If You Find A Bat
If you find a live bat in the house do not kill it or injure the head.
Per CDC recommendations (Center for Disease Control), if it is possible that the bat could have come in contact with anyone while they were sleeping, then that bat will need to be tested for rabies as directed. In other words, if you find a bat when you wake up in the morning, you need to consider the fact that you may have been exposed to the bat without your knowledge. In fact, any bat found in the home should be tested.
If you find a dead bat, inside or out, it should be tested for rabies as well.
Testing can be done for a small fee through your health departments epidemiology department.
For your own protection, never touch a bat directly dead or alive, and when possible, it is always best to call a professional to do the job.
If you are in the Oklahoma area, we can help you catch or handle the bat (dead or alive), following all proper safety procedures. We can also remove the bats from your building, handle any necessary proofing of living areas, and exclude the bats from inside your home and attic.
Bats And Pets
If you have found a bat in the house and you have pets, take them to your veterinarian immediately and make sure that all of their vaccinations are brought up to date, including rabies.
You will also want to do this if you have found a bat on the ground outside or anywhere else that your pet may have come into contact with it.
Bats can sometimes behave in an unusual or sickly manner when they have rabies, making themselves available to cats or dogs, which often like to take advantage of the opportunity to catch or play with them.
Having pets, particularly in the house, can slightly complicate things with respect to bats and safety concerns, however, their hearing and senses will almost always locate invading bats before you do, and this can help.
Should your health department recommend that you undergo post-exposure treatment for rabies, your insurance company will usually pay for the majority of the treatment. However, if you simply want a pre-exposure series of rabies vaccinations done, your insurance company will generally make you pay for all the costs. For example, an individual who frequently comes into contact with bats might choose to undergo pre-exposure vaccinations as a precautionary measure.
9521 B Riverside Parkway, #343
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74137-7422