Bats, while good for the environment can be dangerous to human health. The main reason is that bats can carry rabies. Bat and rabies go hand in hand and while there’s less than a 1% chance that a bat will have rabies; it’s best to treat every bat as if they’re infected. What is rabies? Rabies is a viral infection that attacks mammals. It’s most often seen in skunk’s, fox and raccoon’s, but bat’s can also be a vector.
Bats and rabies are a human health issue because more people since 1980 have been infected this way then any other strain of rabies. On average in Connecticut 7 bats per year have tested positive for rabies.
Bats transmit rabies through saliva. The virus can be transmitted when a person is bitten or scratched by a bat. The virus is also communicable through an open wound or if it comes in contact with mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes and nose.
Telling if a bat is rabid is difficult. Bats with rabies may show abnormal behavior such as outdoor activity during the daylight or being found on the ground-paralyzed and unable to fly. A rabid bat will usually die within a few days after showing signs of the disease. Testing for bats is done on a bat’s intact brain.
While having physical contact with a bat would be unusual any contact with a bat should be evaluated by a health authorities. The reason is that bites and scratches may be very small, unrecognizable or look like bug bites . Those most susceptible to an “unknown’ bite or scratch are the very young and elderly.
Knowledge about rabies is important because once symptoms of rabies begin, its almost always fatal. The prompt treatment of rabies is imperative once contact with saliva occurs.
Treatment for rabies begins with cleansing of the area with the first shot being immune globulin and then a series of 6 shots over a 28 day period are administered. The shoots will mostly be given into the arm muscle. Contact a health professional for exact details.
As stated at the beginning of this post having contact with a bat is unusual. Bats are not known to attack humans, but many Connecticut residents find bats in their home during Aug-Sept.
If you find a bat or a bat with rabies, it would be best to call a professional to handle the situation. We can be reached at 1-888-879-6481.
This article was written with information in a public bulletin put out by the Connecticut Department of Public Health