The C.D.C. recommends that if you are bitten or scratched by a bat, you should immediately wash the wound thoroughly and get medical attention. Each year, about 55,000 people receive an emergency series of rabies shots, because they think they have been exposed.
In perspective, fewer humans have died of batborne diseases, worldwide, in the past 20 years than die annually in the U.S. alone from antibiotic-resistant infections.
Simply left alone, bats are harmless and highly beneficial. They are fascinating creatures, vital to the balance of nature around the world. Like most wild animals, bats prefer to avoid contact with humans. But in situations where bats and humans come into close proximity, it is important to understand how to prevent negative outcomes for humans AND bats.
Sabeti and her team used advanced genomic sequencing technology to identify a single point of infection from an animal to a human in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The team's research also revealed the dynamics of how the virus has been transmitted from human to human, and traces how the genetic code of the virus is changing over time to adapt to human hosts.
Rabies has never killed humans in great numbers, but it inspires fear far out of proportion to the risks. In part, this is because of the savage, almost supernatural mania that can grip its victims before they die.
A small percentage of bats carries the rabies virus. Of all weak and sick bats captured and tested for the disease, only about 6 percent have the virus.
A person can be bitten by a bat and not even feel it.
FALLACY. Bat bites feel like sharp needle jabs. According to the United States Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people usually know when they have been bitten by a bat. However, a bat bite can be superficial and not easily noticed.
We recognize the need for reasonable precautions against rabies, including vaccination of all who handle bats professionally, and public education that: 1) cautions never to handle bats or other animals; 2) warns to seek immediate medical evaluation of any actual or suspected animal bite; and 3) places risks in perspective with values.