Passive rabies testing
We support passive testing of dead bats by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to test for rabies which is found in a small number of bats in the UK. More information about the rabies risk can be found here.
We can send a pack and instructions to you by post, so that the bat you have found can be sent for testing. Postage is free, and the address to send the bat to is on the pack.
During the current travel restrictions around COVID-19 (and the focus of many Government laboratories on testing for the disease) some temporary changes have been introduced around the rabies passive surveillance programme. APHA will be prioritising bats that meet the following criteria:
- The bat has been involved in a contact incident (e.g. a bite or scratch) with a person, and/or
- The bat was exhibiting symptoms of rabies prior to its death.
At this time the National Bat Helpline is only able to send out a limited number of packs for submission of bats to APHA. These will be restricted to cases meeting the above criteria. If you have a dead bat that you would like to submit for testing, but which doesn’t meet these criteria, please retain it (if you can do so safely and securely) for submission once travel restrictions have been lifted (see APHA passive surveillance programme page for more details).
Bats that do meet the criteria for more immediate testing should be kept cold until the pack arrives. Please keep in a cool place, ideally in the fridge rather than the freezer. Because of the very small risk of rabies in a small number of bats in the UK, we would recommend wearing gloves or using a cloth or tea towel to handle the bat.
If you are not sure whether the bat is suitable for testing please call the Helpline on 0345 1300 228 for advice.
Please fill in the form below and we will endeavour to send the pack out to you as soon as possible.
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.