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 dead bat specimens, which have been sent in by members of the public and bat workers, for lyssaviruses, specifically 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 19,000 bat specimens have been submitted to APHA and over 15,000 have been tested (not all bats submitted are suitable for testing). Of these, only a low number of bats have tested positive for lyssaviruses. 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 dead bat for testing?

Please fill in the online form and we will endeavour to send the pack out to you as soon as possible so that you can submit that bat within seven days to APHA. Whilst waiting for your tube to arrive the dead specimen should be kept somewhere cool.

Alternatively you may call the BCT helpline on 0345 1300 228 to request a pack.

BAT 1 submission forms are also available from the GOV.UK website as well as the National Bat Helpline.

Please note that test results will only be provided by APHA if a positive result is found. If you do not hear back after 10 days of sending the pack then you can assume that the result is negative. If you would like to see the latest report on APHA’s surveillance work, you can find this on their website.

Submission of rarer species

Over 70% of specimens submitted to APHA have been pipistrelles. 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 if requested, provided the specimen tests negative for EBLV. This requires APHA to use 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 return the body.