Bats and Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system and brain of mammals. It is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva or neural tissue of an infected animal. This usually occurs from the bite of a rabid animal, but contraction through mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth is also possible. Rabies in the southeastern US is most commonly found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats.

Although bats are one of the top rabies vectors in the US, less than 1% of bats are actually infected by the virus. The vast majority of bats will never come into contact with humans, but it is important to exercise caution when they do. If you are bitten or exposed to a bat or any other potentially rabid animal, it is important to follow proper safety protocols. Please follow the link below for guidance on what to do following a potential exposure:

When should I seek medical attention? | Exposure | Rabies | CDC


Rabies Prevention for Bat Biologists

Individuals who handle bats, have contact with bats, or enter high density bat environments like caves are ranked by the CDC as Risk Category 2, the second highest risk category for rabies. The CDC recommends that individuals in Risk Category 2 receive a two-dose rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and a titer check every two years. This new guidance replaces the previous three-dose PrEP for rabies. For further information on the CDC guidelines for rabies prevention please click here:

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) | Prevention | CDC