It is not always possible to identify if a bat has rabies, however, rabid bats may display the following signs:
Generally, behaviour in wild animals makes it difficult to determine if the human exposure was unprovoked or provoked, it is important to seek medical attention and consult the local health unit. However, some behaviour in bats may be considered abnormal and indicative of rabies, such as a bat attacking a person or hanging on relentlessly to a person.
The period of rabies virus shedding in a wild animal such as a bat is unknown. Therefore, when bats are involved in an exposure that could potentially transmit rabies, a trained wildlife removal operator, licenced pest control operator, or local animal control department should be contacted to capture the bat. The person should use extreme caution to ensure that there is limited contact with the bat. The bat should be humanely euthanized immediately in a way that does as little damage to the brain as possible so it can be submitted for rabies testing in consultation with the local health unit.
If a bat is found in the home:
If the bat is available (alive or dead), it may be sent for testing to rule out potential rabies exposure. Call to speak to a public health inspector at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.
Only testing can determine whether or not the bat is carrying rabies. When a health care provider does not know this information, they may recommend rabies post-exposure vaccination.
If a bat is wandering in daylight or crawling on the ground, it may be rabid, so stay away. If you see bats outside, leave them alone. Bats are an important part of our natural environment. Contact a licenced pest control operator or local animal control department.
Contact a licenced pest control operator or a local animal control service for assistance.
Adapted with permission from Halton Region's Bats and Rabies Fact Sheet.
For more information about bat rabies and your health, contact Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit the health unit's website at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org.