Animal & Plant Health Agency passive surveillance programme

BCT encourages bat workers and members of the public to submit dead bats to the Animal & Plant Health Agency's (APHA) passive surveillance programme.

What is the passive surveillance programme?

APHA tests bat specimens, which have been sent in by members of the public and local bat workers, for European Bat Lyssaviruses (EBLV). The surveillance programme was established in 1986, following concerns that EBLV might be brought into the UK by bats crossing over from Europe.

Since 1986 over 15,000 bat specimens have been processed by APHA. Of these, five bats have tested positive for EBLV1 (all serotines) and 22 bats (all Daubenton's bats) have tested positive for EBLV2 (an additional case, making a total of 28 EBLV-positive bats, was found through a different surveillance programme). A summary table of the APHA cases can be found on the GOV.UK website.

APHA are especially interested in Daubenton’s bats, serotines, Natterer’s bats, and Brandt’s bats as well as any vagrant species (including any common bent-winged bats) but all species are accepted.

Why does BCT encourage bat workers to submit dead bats for testing?

This programme significantly contributes to our understanding of EBLV in the UK, and its results ensure that good practice guidelines, with regards to rabies and bats, is evidence-based.

How do I submit a bat for testing?

  • Contact the BCT helpline on 0345 1300 228 to request a tube;
  • Place the dead bat inside the tube;
  • Seal the tube and wrap it in an absorbant material, e.g. kitchen roll;
  • Complete the submission form; and
  • Send to APHA in the freepost envelope provided.

BAT 1 submission forms are available from the GOV.UK website and from the National Bat Helpline.

The Helpline will endeavour to send out a tube as soon as possible. Whilst waiting for your tube to arrive the dead specimen should be kept somewhere cool, however please note that dead bats should not be stored in the freezer as this can interfere with the testing process.

Submission of rarer species

Over 70% of specimens submitted to APHA have been pipistelles. To try and help address this bias, greater and lesser horseshoes, Bechstein's, barbastelles and grey long-eared bats may, in exceptional cases, be returned to the sender, provided the specimen tests negative for EBLV. This requires APHA to undertake a different test though. So please make clear on the BAT 1 form if you would like to request this service and APHA will make every effort to accommodate your wishes.