WHO Rabies - Bulletin - Europe
Rabies Information System of the
WHO Collaboration Centre for Rabies Surveillance and Research
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Questions and answers about bat rabies

Is there a risk of getting bat rabies?

You are not at a higher risk if you have bats in your attic, cellar or behind your walls.
The possibility of getting bat rabies is very low.  Only people who regularly work with or handle bats, such as bat conservationists or zoo workers are at a higher risk. The WHO recommends a preventive vaccination against rabies for such people.

How can people get bat rabies?

Bat rabies can be transmitted by the bite of an infected bat or if infectious material (such as saliva) from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound. If people do not handle bats they are not at risk.

How can you tell if a bat has rabies?

The only confirmed diagnosis can be done by a regional veterinary laboratory. Clinical sign of rabies in bats may vary considerably. There is no common picture of clinical symptoms. They can show abnormal behaviour, e.g. being active at daytime, biting and shrieking, being grounded and unable to fly. Rabid bats are often caught by cats.   

What can I do if I find a bat?

Keep calm. In case, the bat is flying around in a room, leave just the door or window to the outside open, so that the bat might leave. Do not touch the bat with bare hands!
Contact your local bat conservationists or the veterinary officer. They know how to handle bats. If you try to capture the bat, use thick leather gloves and a card box with holes for breathing. Put the box with the bat in a cool place and wait for bat specialists.

What should I do if I get in contact with a bat?

Slight scratches or bites might go undetected. If you felt a contact with possibly infectious material, clean the wound immediately. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap or other detergents and leave it under rinsing water for several minutes. Seek medical advice immediately but do not panic. A treatment after exposure is possible and extremely effective.

Bats dwell in my building. What should I do?

Get in contact with your local bat conservationists. They will be happy about new roosting sites. You are not at risk of getting bat rabies. As a precaution for the bats and yourself: do not try to approach or handle bats.

What should I do if I find a dead bat?

Contact your local veterinary administration or bat specialists.  Species, gender, location, etc should de notified. All dead bats should be tested for rabies for rabies.

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