A small number of bats in the UK have been found to carry rabies viruses called European Bat Lyssaviruses. There are two known types: EBLV-1 and EBLV-2, more information on rabies and bats can be found here.
Bat bites are not always obvious and do not tend to leave a mark, therefore they are often felt not seen. Scratches or contact with bat saliva may also pose a risk. If you are unsure you were bitten (or licked or scratched) we advise you still speak to a health professional so they can assess the risk and provide the appropriate medical advice.
Although the risk of catching rabies from a bat in the UK is very low, rabies contracted from bats can be fatal in humans once symptoms appear. However, prompt action when bitten or scratched by a bat is effective at preventing the disease.
Wash the wound
If you think you have been bitten or scratched by a bat it is important to the site of the bite or scratch immediately with soap and water for at least five minutes. Additional cleansing of the wound site with an alcohol base or other disinfectant is also recommended.
Seek medical advice
Seek immediate medical advice from a health professional even if you have been vaccinated against rabies before. You can also call the NHS Direct Helpline on 111.
Additional information is available from the Public Health England website and leaflet and the Health Protection Scotland leaflet. It can be very useful to refer to this when you speak to a health professional, they may not have dealt with a bat bite/contact case before.
Have a bat in need of care?
If you have found a grounded or injured bat, please follow our advice on how to help the bat here.
Further advice for medical professionals
Details on how you can get specialist advice, support on completing the rabies risk assessment and provision of free rabies vaccine for post-exposure treatment can be found from Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.