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Recommendations for Postexposure Rabies Prophylaxis in Cases Involving Possible Exposure to Bats

Although bats are fascinating animals, they are also high risk for spreading rabies. If you find an injured, sick, or dead bat, please do NOT touch it. If you require assistance, you can notify your local animal control agency or local health department.

One of the primary concerns if a person has contact with a bat is the possibility of exposure to rabies. Bats have been increasingly implicated as wildlife reservoirs for variants of rabies virus that have been transmitted to humans. Since 1980, 21 of 24 indigenously acquired human rabies cases in the United States have been attributable to bat variants of rabies virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised the following recommendations in conjunction with current Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines:

In situations in which a bat is physically present and the person cannot exclude the possibility of a bite (e.g. if the person was sleeping or the bat was found in a room with a previously unattended child or mentally disabled or intoxicated person), postexposure treatment should be considered unless prompt testing of the bat has ruled out rabies infection.

It is especially important to educate children about avoiding contact with bats. For more information or educational materials pertaining to rabies, please contact your regional TDH Zoonosis Control office.

References:

  • CDC. Rabies Prevention - United States, 1991: recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee(ACIP). MMWR 1991; 40 (no. RR - 3)

  • CDC. Human Rabies - Texas and New Jersey, 1997. MMWR 1998; 47:1-5

Last updated February 23, 2011