Rabies

Anyone who handles bats regularly should be vaccinated against rabies. UK Bat Care Network members are required to submit proof of an up-to-date jab before the National Bat Helpline will refer calls to them. More information can be found in the Bats and Disease section of BCT's website and we strongly recommend you read the page on vaccinations.

If your work with bats is strictly voluntary, you have completed your training, are handling bats regularly, and you are based in the UK, then you should be eligible for free rabies vaccinations. We recommend reading the information on the vaccinations web page (link above) to check that you are eligible. You’ll then need to contact your doctor’s surgery and the following documents may be helpful:

If you have queries about your rabies vaccination, please email Allyson Walsh at awalsh@bats.org.uk.

Even if you're fully vaccinated, you should wear gloves at all times when handling bats. BCT's guide Wearing Gloves When Handling Bats gives more information.

BCT's Good Practice Guidelines on Bats and Rabies are essential reading for all batworkers on how to manage risk and respond to potential exposure. A supplement written especially for bat carers focuses on how to deal with bats suspected to have the disease.


We encourage any rehabilitators who have bats die in their care to submit them to the Animal and Plant Health Agency for rabies testing. Click here to request a testing kit. If you already have test tubes and envelopes and just need a form, you can download this directly from APHA's website.

COVID-19

For the latest guidelines on bat care and COVID-19, please read the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's document, IUCN SSC Bat Specialist Group (BSG) recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to bats in bat rescue and rehabilitation centers.

Mealworm allergies

Allergies are relatively common among people who handle mealworms regularly. Since mealworms are the main food for bats in captivity, it's important that you know how to protect yourself and recognise the symptoms of allergies. BCT's document Mealworm Allergy Information for Bat Carers provides further information. If you're a UK Bat Care Network member and you develop a mealworm allergy, please let the Bat Care Co-Ordinator know as soon as possible.

Bat Care Bulletin articles

The Bat Care Bulletin blog has a number of useful articles under the category Human Health. You can also use the index at the bottom of the blog to find specific topics you're interested in. All posts are initially password-protected and accessible to UK Bat Care Network members only, but most are eventually made public. If you’re not a UK Bat Care Network member and find these articles helpful, please support BCT’s bat care work by making a donation.

If you volunteer with a Network-registered regional helpline or wildlife hospital, please ask your co-ordinator for the blog password. If you’re a Network member under your own name but have lost your password, please contact the Bat Care Network Co-Ordinator on batcare@bats.org.uk.

White-nose syndrome

White-nose syndrome has devastated bat populations in North America, but has never been known to occur in the UK. The fungus that causes it, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, is present here and sometimes grows on our bats, but does not appear to cause the same kind of illness. It's possible that the fungus was accidentally imported from Europe to North America, where the bats had no resistance to it. However, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the white-nose syndrome team at the Bat Conservation Trust are closely monitoring the situation and want to know of any suspected occurrences of either P. destructans or the syndrome itself.

If a bat with white fungus comes into your care, please follow our guidelines for caring for it, reporting it and taking a sample of the fungus for APHA.

P. destructans is not known to pose any threat to human health.