Accurate Rabies in Bats Information for Tweeters WAS: [Tweeters] Re: Bat close encounter, RFI

Hal Michael ucd880 at
Mon Aug 29 13:40:05 PDT 2016

There is at least one other way to get bat bit, as it happened to a boss of mine. He was flyfishing at night (legally) and had a bat take his dry fly. Since his beverage of choice for hydration was beer, he was unaware that he had hooked a bat instead of a fish. The bat bit him. Don't know what happened to the bat but the boss got the treatments.

Hal Michael
Science Outreach Director, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation
Olympia WA
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at

----- Original Message -----

I usually lurk quietly on Tweeters. Most of the posts that go by on a wide range of topics is excellent and I enjoy them .
T his post wasn't in that category.
Recent data on bats and rabies incidence from our local and regional health departments is available .
Check out for information from the CDC. The Mortality and Morbidity Reports are also an excellent way to develop a sense of how people are being exposed to rabies.
Bats are the only rabies vector species in Washington. There are a couple of different incidence numbers to consider.
For bats plucked out of the air in mist nets and other active bats doing normal bat behaviors infection rates are 0.3 to 0.7 percent - three to seven per thousand bats.
On the statistic of more interest to those of us encountering bats flopping around on the sidewalk in the afternoon or brought into our homes by hunting cats the rate rises by a factor of ten.
Rabies incidence in bats turned into local health departments from this biased sampling is seven to ten percent.
Rabies is nothing to mess around with. It is nearly always fatal if post exposure treatment is not provided. For this reason keep your cats indoors, keep your dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated as required by state law, teach your kids to not pick up bats and only handle bats with gloves, Tupperware or, best, not at all.
"Contact" with bats requires post exposure treatment. Contact is considered handling a bat without gloves or the presence of a bat in the room of a sleeping or unconscious person.
You have time to get treatment - it is not an emergency room event - the virus enters at a bite site and moves through the peripheral nerves heading for the CNS. The next couple of working days is fine for seeking treatment - but you must start the post exposure series. That series is 5 shots - one of immunoglobulin and 4 of vaccine to crank up your immune system delivered over 14 days. Shots go into your arms. I've found the vaccine which I've been getting since the 1970s to be painless. The IG shot can be painless if the person giving it warms up the serum and takes sufficient time to inject the somewhat thick liquid slowly.
Clearly it is way easier to just not handle bats.

>From other Tweeters posts it is clear that many of you travel extensively - one point I would make is to not pet those dogs while you are traveling . South and Central America, Africa, South and Central Asia - really almost anywhere - just don't mess with those dogs.

Hope this helps. Happy to answer any questions I may have raised on this topic,
Curt Black - Bat Researcher / Bats Northwest
206 755-4541c
wr5j at

From: tweeters-bounces at [mailto:tweeters-bounces at] On Behalf Of Scott
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2016 22:18
To: Sammy Catiis; tweeters at
Subject: [Tweeters] Re: Bat close encounter, RFI


Thanks for this so much. Yes, I've read that not less than 80% of our bats have rabies, so no desire for contact --that's why I almost opted for the back-breaker! Hope you're seeing lots of birds up there--any warbler or flycatcher action? Have thought of coming by to bird your road area, wondered what you might think...


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