Bats play a vital role in the ecosystem, eating insects that otherwise destroy farmers’ crops. But these little mammals can carry deadly diseases such as rabies. Rabies is transmitted through bites or scratches from an infected bat. While we love the animals for what they do for us, it is important to avoid contact with them whenever possible.
Bat teeth are small and can scratch or puncture the skin, leaving a mark that looks like a pin prick. If you do find a puncture wound that isn’t visible to the naked eye, it is important to consult your health care professional as a potential rabies exposure may have occurred.
Often people get bitten by bats when they try to capture or handle them. These shy creatures do not seek confrontation with humans and will only defend themselves if provoked or attacked. A person who is bitten by a bat should be washed with soap and water immediately and seek medical attention.
If a bat is discovered inside your home or business, follow CDC guidelines and do not kill it or injure its head. Instead, place a box or other container over it and slide cardboard underneath to trap the bat. This bat should then be taken outdoors and released far away from the building. If the bat is tested for rabies and comes up negative, no preventive medication is needed. However, if the bat is tested positive for rabies, a series of procedures (known as post-exposure rabies prophylaxis or PEP) must be administered immediately.