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Bat bites in the UK

2 August 2011

A 30 year old woman in Scotland has been bitten by a bat after finding it on the ground near Loch Lomond. In line with guidance the Bat Conservation Trust provides, the woman has received post exposure treatment for a rabies-type virus as a precaution.

Bats are not normally aggressive animals and many people live happily with bats and hundreds of bat workers handle bats safely. However bats are wild animals and if a bat is found on the ground it is likely to be injured and distressed so should not be approached.  If anyone finds a bat they should call the Bat Helpline 0845 1300 228 which provides free information and up-to-date advice to the public about bats.

The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) works closely with the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Health Protection Agency (or Health Protection Scotland) to ensure up to date advice is given.  BCT advises people to avoid handling bats but, if it is necessary to handle a bat, then to wear gloves to avoid being bitten or scratched.

In the unlikely event that someone is bitten or scratched by a bat, the bite or scratch should be washed thoroughly with soap and running water and medical attention should be sought immediately. There is a very small risk of European Bat Lyssavirus type-2 (EBLV2), a rabies-type virus in one species of our 18 UK bat species.  The risk is well managed and monitored in the UK, and since 1986 over 9000 bats have been tested via a passive surveillance programme and since 2003 there has also been an active surveillance scheme, and through these programmes only 10 bats have tested positive for the live virus.

Although the risk is very low, BCT takes it seriously and so we work very hard to ensure the public are given advice through our Bat Helpline; we promote good practice among people who work with bats; and we work closely with government agencies on policies and procedures relating to bats.

If anyone has any questions or concerns about bats call the Bat Helpline 0845 1300 228 for advice.

 

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Bat Helpline

0345 1300 228