Bats And Rabies

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Unveiling the Hidden Dangers: The Surprising Truth About Bats and Rabies Transmission

The most recent incidents of rabies transmission from bats to humans in the U.S. occurred in 2021. There were five reported deaths due to rabies, which was notably the highest number in over a decade. These cases were associated with direct contact with bats, and none of the individuals received post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is highly effective in preventing the disease if administered before symptoms appear​ (

Rabies is a disease that is caused by a virus. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated.  Rabies in people is, however, rare.

All wild animals play an important role in our environment. Some wild animals are more likely to carry rabies, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Animals that have hair or fur and produce milk are at risk of getting or spreading rabies. It is important not to approach, touch, feed, or relocate any wildlife, including finding a bat lying on the ground!

Photo at Bats and Rabies page: Rabies virus. Thanks to via Wikimedia Commons

3D medical animation still showing rabies virus with length of about 180nm.

When an animal has rabies, its behavior can be very unpredictable. It may bite or scratch or lose its fear of people. It may seem real friendly. You can’t tell by looking at an animal if it has rabies or not, and it could pass it on to either you or to your pets, so we want you to remember not to feed wild animals and if you see an animal around your property, you should avoid it.

Rabies, also known as hydrophobia, is a viral zoonotic neuroinvasive disease that causes acute mammal encephalitis (brain inflammation). It is most commonly caused by a bite from an infected animal but occasionally by other contact forms. If left untreated in humans, it is usually fatal. In some countries, it is a significant killer of livestock. The rabies virus goes to the brain by following the peripheral nerves.

The disease’s incubation period depends on how far the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system, usually taking a few months. Once the infection reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the untreated infection is usually fatal within days.

In the beginning stages of rabies, the symptoms are malaise, headache, and fever. In contrast, in the later stages, it includes acute pain, violent movements, uncontrolled excitements, depression, and the inability to swallow water (hence the name hydrophobia).

In the final stages, the patient begins to have periods of mania, lethargy, and coma. Death generally occurs due to respiratory insufficiency.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a disease that is caused by a virus. It affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated.  Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, but rabies in animals – especially wildlife – is common in most parts of the country. An animal with rabies is called a “rabid” animal.

Bats with rabies do exist. Please never pick up sick bats and contact a Bat Removal Pro Professional for help or call us at (855) 515-2287 or (855) 515-BATS .

How Is Rabies Spread?

The rabies virus lives in infected animals’ saliva, brain, and spinal cord (neural tissue). It is spread when a rabid animal bites or scratches a person or animal or if its saliva or neural tissue comes in contact with a person or animal’s mouth, nose, or eyes or enters a cut in the skin. Rabies is not spread by petting or touching dried saliva, blood, urine, or feces of a rabid animal. What animals can carry rabies?

Skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes are the most commonly infected animals. Rabies can infect any animal with hair but is very rare among small rodents like squirrels, rats, mice, and chipmunks.

Bat exposures are often difficult to detect, especially in the cases of a sleeping person awakening to a bat in the room or an adult witnessing a bat in a room with a previously unattended child, mentally disabled person, or intoxicated person.

What Is Rabies Exposure?

A rabies exposure happens when the saliva or neural tissue of a rabid animal comes in contact with a person or animal through a bite or scratch, cut in the skin, or gets into the eyes, nose, or mouth.

How Can I Prevent Exposure To Rabies?

You can generally avoid contact with wild animals. Also, make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccination.