In the past fifty years most of the human rabies cases in the United States have been caused by rabies virus from bats. Awareness of this fact about bats and rabies can help people protect themselves, their families, and their pets.
When people think about bats, they often imagine things that are not true. Bats are not blind. Bats do not fly into people's hair or attack people. They are neither flying rodents nor birds. They will not suck your blood, and most do not have rabies.
Bats play key roles in ecosystems around the globe, from rain forests to deserts, especially by eating large numbers of insects. The best protection we can offer these unique mammals is to learn more about their habits and recognize the value of living safely with them.
What is rabies and how to humans contract it?
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of an animal with rabies (a rabid animal). Any warm-blooded wild mammal, like a bat, coyote, fox, raccoon or skunk can have rabies and transmit it to humans.
Rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy and ultimately death. Early symptoms of rabies in humans are nonspecific, consisting of fever, headache, and general malaise. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.
The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the twentieth century to one or two per year in the 1990's. Modern day treatment has proven nearly 100% successful. In the United States, human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.
Bat exclusion work should not be attempted by amateurs. It takes an expert with a lot of experience to do the job correctly. Urban Wildlife Control has performed over 600 residential and commercial bat removal & exclusions on homes, churches, schools, stadiums and government buildings, with a 100% success rate.Little Brown Bats can reduce their heart rate to 20 beats per minute and can stop breathing altogether for 48 minutes at a time while hibernating. They may hibernate for more than seven months if left undisturbed, but can starve if they are awakened too many times during the winter, which causes them to run out of energy reserves before spring.