Do all bats carry rabies?

Mammals may contract or carry rabies, but bats may be asymptomatic carriers for this disease. In reality, bats may contract rabies in far less numbers compared to other animals; only half of one percent of bats may contract such diseases. There are a variety of wild animals that are susceptible to contracting rabies, including bats, coyotes, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Dogs and cats and livestock may also contract rabies.

Some rumors may say that there are hundreds of people who may die from bat bites every year, but this is not true. Typically only one or two humans die each year because of bat rabies. People are more likely to catch other diseases from bats rather than getting rabies. About 99 percent of the people who die because of rabies every year get the disease from rabid dogs and not bats. But with the successful vaccination program, it is rare now to get rabies from cats or dogs.

A person who has been bitten by a bat will feel it since the bat’s teeth are like sharp needle jabs. The bat bite may be superficial and it may not be easy to see. The bats may have small teeth that leave marks that cannot be seen that easily. It is important to seek a doctor’s help when you have been in contact with bats even when there is no obvious biting. For example, if you wake up and find bats in the room, if you see bats in a room of an unattended child, or even see bats near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, you should call for medical advice and have the bat or bats tested.

You are not able to catch rabies by only being near the bat. Rabies is usually transmitted by bites. However, in rare cases the exposure may take place because of contact with infected nervous tissues or infected saliva on open wounds or in the mucous of the mouth, nose or eyes. The principal source for rabies exposure from bats may be because of careless handling. People may not get rabies through simply seeing a bat in the attic. People may not even get rabies through being in contact with bat urine, blood or guano. Once again, not all bats have rabies and in fact that is an extremely rare occurrence. However, you still need to be careful around bats just in case.

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