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Bats and Rabies

Although bats may be helpful to humans by consuming insect pests, some bats are infected with rabies. People and animals can get rabies from bites and infected saliva with open wounds.

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Protect your family and pets

  • Do not handle bats or other wild animals, especially those that appear sick or injured
  • Vaccinate your pets
  • Keep children and pets away from bats and other wild animals

Watch "Bats and Rabies" - Global Alliance for Rabies Control

What to do if you find a bat in your house

If you are certain that there was no contact with a person or pet (for example, you saw the bat fly in the house and never lost sight of it), close the room and closet doors, open the windows and watch the bat until it leaves.

If you encounter a bat outside your home

Avoid contact with a sick or dead bat on the ground. As soon as a grounded bat is found, it should be isolated to prevent further contact with people and animals. If you can isolate the bat, cover it with a pail, coffee can or similar container and place a heavy object such as a brick or rock on top of the container to secure it. Remember that the Oregon Public Health Laboratory will only test bats when a human exposure has occurred. Call your local health authority for assistance.

If a bat had contact with a person or pet, the bat should be captured and tested for rabies. If the bat cannot be captured, call your local health authority for advice on what to do next.

To capture a bat

  • Turn on room lights and close the windows.
  • Close the room and closet doors.
  • Wait for the bat to land.
  • Wearing gloves, place a coffee can, pail or similar container over the bat.
  • Slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat.
  • Firmly hold the cardboard in place against the top of the container, turn it right side up and tape the cardboard tightly to the container.

After the bat is captured

  • If contact with a person or pet occurred, or you are not sure if contact occurred, DO NOT release the bat. Call your local health authority for assistance and information.
  • If there was no contact with a person or pet, take the covered container outside and release the bat outdoors, preferably at night and away from human populated areas.

When to seek treatment

Rabies post-exposure treatment should be considered if:

  • There was physical contact with a person where a bite or scratch occurred or could not be ruled out;
  • Even in the absence of known physical contact, if the bat had access to an unattended young child, a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a person with other sensory or mental impairment;

AND the bat

  • is found to be rabid;
  • is not available for testing;
  • was untestable.

See Also