Rabies - Why Bats?

I recently began working on my 2 year vet tech degree, so I've been learning quite a bit of interesting stuff!  Don't worry - it's not going to become a totally medical blog, heh.  At least, not right now!  :p

Something I found particularly interesting, though, (and that's Halloween-appropriate!) was the answer to a question that's bugged me since I was a kid:


I always liked bats.  They don't seem like the villains people make them out to be, but I've never been bold enough to test that theory.  I can personally vouch that their presence near one's dwelling seriously decreases the number of mosquitoes on one's porch.  They work better than citronella candles, and they don't smell anywhere near as bad.

So why are we so often warned to reduce the bat population, to keep them away from our homes, yada yada yada?  Why is it that the first animal that comes to mind as associated with rabies is the furry little bat?

It's simple, really.  The reason I think we're most afraid of bats as rabies carriers is that a bite from a bat can very easily go unnoticed.  Most of the time, when a bat lands on a person and bites, they aren't even aware they were bitten at all.  If there are bats in your house, it's possible to be bitten in your sleep, or when intoxicated, without even noticing.  For this reason, we're a bit more careful around bats.

There are of course other reasons we make the association.  Although cats are the most likely domestic animal to become infected with rabies, bats have been involved in most transmission to humans.  I think what really spooks people the most, though, is that little bit about not being aware you've been nommed.  They're just so small - it's easy to miss.

Nifty facts about rabies:
  • Any mammal can get rabies, but small rodents such as mice have never been observed with the infection.
  • Birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other non-mammalian animals can NOT carry, transmit, or become infected with rabies.
  • The virus is shed in the saliva, but only intermittently.  Because of this, the brain must be tested, because the saliva may not be excreting virus when tested even if it was when a bite was delivered.
  • Different animals have different periods of time before they show symptoms, and exhibit different behaviors as a response to the virus as well.  Since not all animals are documented as thoroughly as domestic animals, some must be euthanized and tested rather than quarantined to determine if they were rabid (to figure out if a bitten person requires a postexposure treatment).
  • Risks are different in different countries - if you're traveling with your pet, make sure they have been vaccinated well beforehand.
  • If your pet has been bitten by another animal that might be rabid and is up to date on their shots, they still need to be revaccinated immediately and watched closely.  Go straight to your vet and let them know, as this knowledge helps determine local risks, and they can help you observe your furry friend and treat the bite.  If they are not up to date on shots, ask your vet to counsel you on what to do to ensure risks are kept minimal.
  • Here's an interesting link to the CDC's page on how Rabies can be transmitted.
Poor bats.  They're just doin' their batty thing, eating bugs, flyin' around.  They need the love.

Just NOT the close-up, touchy kind.  ;)

See you 'round!
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

0 paw prints:

Post a Comment