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What Does a Bat Bite Look Like?

Bat bite

Table of Contents

Bat bite is one of the leading causes of rabies deaths in Australia, with the Lyssavirus carried through bites and scratches.

There is currently no cure for rabies infection from bats. However, proper cleaning of wounds and getting vaccination can help prevent serious complications.

Bat Rabies Factsheets

Australia is home to over 90 bats species found in many different habitats. In contrast to popular belief, not all bats live in caves. These flying mammals’ other popular locations include trees, mountains, deserts, rock cracks, barns, and even rooftops.

Bats are known to be nocturnal animals. They mostly do the prey searching at night and hibernate during the day. These creatures have poor vision, and they emit echoes to detect and locate targets in the dark.

Bats plays a vital role in the ecosystem; however, they are also responsible for carrying deadly diseases, including rabies.

Bats can transmit rabies to humans through bites and scratches, and the Lyssavirus is one of them. Although rabies deaths are uncommon and do not usually cause severe complications, the effects are entirely different in Australia.

When people get rabies from a bite or scratch from an infected animal, there are high chances of it being fatal.

Take note that bat bites can be very small and barely visible to the naked eye. The bitten person might not always know if they are exposed to the rabies virus until the symptoms kick in.

The best way to protect oneself and others from bats is to stay away from their habitats. Seek medical care even with the slightest contact with these flying mammals.

What should I do if I encounter a bat?

Watch out for any signs of rabies infection following a bat bite, scratches, or even exposure to infectious material (such as saliva or brain material).

Check if any of these gets into the eyes, nose, mouth, or in an open wound. If so, wash the wound thoroughly using soap and water and seek medical care right away.

If possible, capture the bat and send it to a laboratory for rabies testing.

When spending time outdoors

It is common and normal to see bats flying outside, especially at dusk and through the night. Avoid intentional contact or going nearby these mammals to prevent bites and scratches.

Use protective screens, close tents, and mosquito netting for a safe time outdoors.

When inside the home

The appearance of bats inside the home requires a call to local emergency services and authorities.

Call local animal welfare, wildlife conservation, or a public health agency to remove the bat inside the home. If professional assistance is unavailable, try to catch the bat for further testing safely.

Treatment for bat bites or scratches

Getting appropriate treatment is extremely important after bat bites or scratches, even if the person is already vaccinated.

Appropriate first aid treatment for bat bites include:

  • Thorough washing the wound with soap and water immediately kills viruses that may have been introduced through exposure.
  • After washing, apply an antiseptic with claims of antivirus actions. We recommend using Betadine (with the active ingredient povidone-iodine) or alcohol (ethanol).
  • Receive treatment with rabies immunoglobin. The injection will provide extra protection against the Lyssavirus if not previously vaccinated.
  • Four doses (of five in people with the weak immune system) of rabies vaccine on the first day of exposure and the following days – 3, 7, and 14 if the person has not been immunised.

If the person has prior immunisation, there will only be a requirement of two doses of rabies vaccine on the first and third day.

If the bat remains inside and outside the home or is still in the area, call animal control or a bat care organisation within site. Never attempt to handle a bat on your own. Get emergency medical help right away.

Learn first aid to understand proper wound care and prevent infection from bat bites and scratches.

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