Will a bat attack you?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Will a bat attack you? We will talk about the most dangerous types of bats, and what to do in case of a bat bite. We will also discuss the most common taboos about bats.

Will a bat attack you?

No, not all bats want or will attack humans. Bats that tend to live closer to areas inhabited by humans tend to feed on insects and fruits, they are mostly harmless. Attacks on humans are quite isolated and sensational cases.

In addition to rabies, there are other viruses that bats can carry (or, at least, we suspect): influenza (which has a great mutation capacity), Ebola (which is suspected), and the Marburg virus (confirmed and that, in addition, is transmitted from fruit bats to humans).

Humans are intimidated by bats. The legends, their appearance, their nocturnal life, their high-pitched sounds … But also because of the diseases, they carry in their saliva. As we already mentioned, bats are an infectious source for humans. They are reservoirs for many serious diseases. 

They are the bridge that makes them go from animals to humans. They keep them in their saliva and are transmitted by biting (not forgetting the fungus in their feces). Dogs, for example, can also transmit rabies, but since there is a domestic pet vaccination system, they do not usually infect humans in developed countries. 

This is why bats are the main focus of rabies. In addition, the bite of these is painless so, when it appears, we do not know how we have become infected and as the incubation period is two to ten days, we need a quick diagnosis.

Where do the most dangerous bats live?

Blood-sucking bats (or vampires) live in only America. This is where the 3 hematophagous species in the world live: Desmodus rotundus, Diphylla ecaudata, and Diaemus youngi. Of these, only the first one feeds on mammals. There are reports that a bat can attack a person but, in general, they prefer to feed on livestock. 

Rabies-infected bats do not attack others of their own, but they do behave erratically, colliding and falling to the ground. If we go to pick them up, a bat can attack us from among those who want to help. It is best not to approach. They generally won’t attack.

It is vitally important to discuss this with children, as they may not know it and want to help the animal. In addition, these diseases, if they have them, are very serious in minors.

These types of bats (hematophagous) are those that, in addition to rabies, also carry brucellosis, candidiasis, cryptococcosis, and Trypanosoma evansi.

What to do in case of a bat bite?

The bite is usually painless, and if we have suffered it when visiting caves or forests, we may not realize it. In case we have noticed, we must go to the nearest health center and tell the emergency doctor. There will be prophylaxis of the area and the appropriate tests to rule out diseases, as well as a preventive anti-rabies vaccination.

More than the act of attacking a human bat, which can really affect us in our country is pneumonia (SARS) caused by their guano fungus. And this is common in all species of bats.

What should we do if we have had contact with one? The first thing is to wash the affected part well with soap and water for about 15 minutes. This washing considerably reduces the risk of infection. 

After washing, we must go as soon as possible to a medical center or to an emergency. It is not an emergency but it is an urgency. Once there, the protocol that each autonomous community has for these cases will be followed. In these cases, the post-exposure vaccine is indicated, that is, after possible contact with the virus. 

If a person is attacked by a bat, they will be treated as if that animal were potentially ‘rabid’, in the event that for whatever reason the person attacked by the bat has not gone to the emergency room, you should know that you can leave in the following days. The vaccine will be effective and enough.

It is very difficult to know if a bat is infected or not because generally, it does not usually present the disease itself. It is advisable to evaluate the bat that has attacked us and for this, it will be necessary to capture it but if catching it implies a greater risk of exposure, it should not be done.

What if I am already vaccinated against rabies? 

When the person attacked by the bat goes to a medical center, two aspects are valued. 

If one has never been vaccinated against rabies before, they are given a certain dose and a serum. But if the person is already vaccinated against rabies for a specific reason, she or he is given a lower dose. The vaccine is usually very effective, and it is very rare that after correct vaccination symptoms of the disease develop.

Will rabies be eradicated in the world? 

Rabies transmitted by any animal is, according to the WHO, a vaccine-preventable disease that affects more than 150 countries and territories. In the vast majority of cases, deaths from rabies in humans, the dog is the source of infection. Rabies causes tens of thousands of deaths each year, especially in Asia and Africa. 

For this reason, and finally once and for all with this disease, the WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) established in 2015 the global collaboration ‘United Against Rabies’ to develop a common strategy. The goal: that in 2030 there will be no human deaths from rabies.

Bats and disease

It is not very common for a bat to attack or bite a person. However, we must know that this animal can carry certain diseases that can be transmitted to humans: rabies, henipavirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Also, it should be noted that only a very low percentage of the population of this species is infected, and even this figure is much lower than the cases of rabid dogs that live on the streets. What is true is that rabid specimens are more easily disoriented and cannot fly well, which is why they are more likely to hide on the roofs of houses or even enter homes.

It is not necessary to be irrationally afraid of them or try to kill them just because they appear in the garden or garage, but it is necessary to take certain measures if we find them near a baby, a sleeping person, or a pet. And it is that the bat may have infected them.

Bats and blood

In urban areas, complaints from neighbors are recurrent, when for various reasons more bats appear than usual or sneak into houses, as they find themselves seeking shelter when a storm breaks out.

Despite having a threatening aspect and relating it to horror stories, the truth is that most of the bats that roam the cities feed on insects and fruits.

Of course, there is also hematophagy, which sucks blood and is known as ‘vampires’, but they prefer areas that are far from people. For this reason, they are more frequent in the field, where they choose cattle to get their food and which they do not kill with their fangs or with the blood they extract.

Therefore, the best we can do in these cases is not to scare him and help him so that he can get out of where he is and quickly find his refuge.

The bats and the taboos

Did you know that they are the only mammals that can fly since their upper extremities developed into wings? Or that they play a very important ecological role as pollinators and insect pest controllers?

You have probably read these questions for the first time in your life. And you are not the only one, since for many people bats are strange, dark, and even dark beings.

The nocturnal habits of these animals, which inhabit all continents except Antarctica, have earned them the qualification of ‘dangerous’, to which we must also add horror movies and stories about vampires.

In most of the planet they are considered sinister individuals because of their ability to move around in the dark, or because they sleep during the day and go out at night … That’s because their vision does not allow them to distinguish things when there is light!

To locate themselves they use the same system as dolphins or sperm whales: echolocation, and that is why we hear their sounds or screams in the middle of the night. In this way, they communicate with each other and emit waves that bounce off various objects.

The bottom line

It is very unlikely that a bat will attack you. Bats that live in the cities are insectivores, they will not attack humans unless they feel in danger and have to defend themselves.

However, you should be careful around bats as they can carry many diseases. If you were bitten by a bat, wash the area with warm water and soap for about 15 minutes, and get to a hospital as soon as possible. 

It is very difficult to know if a bat is infected or not because generally, it does not usually present the disease itself. It is advisable to evaluate the bat that has attacked us and for this, it will be necessary to capture it but if catching it implies a greater risk of exposure, it should not be done.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Will a bat attack you?

Do bats bite people?

Bats usually don’t bite people, unless they are provoked and feel in danger. The bite is usually painless, and if we have suffered it when visiting caves or forests, we may not realize it. In case we have noticed, we must go to the nearest health center and tell the emergency doctor. There will be prophylaxis of the area and the appropriate tests to rule out diseases, as well as a preventive anti-rabies vaccination.

Are bats dangerous?

Bats are dangerous because they carry bacteria harmful to humans. Rabies-infected bats do not attack others of their own, but they do behave erratically, colliding and falling to the ground. If we go to pick them up, a bat can attack us from among those who want to help. It is best not to approach. They generally won’t attack.

Are bats aggressive towards humans?

Most bats are not normally aggressive towards humans. In fact, they will try to avoid humans as much as possible and attack only if provoked. 

What can a bat do to a human?

A bat can bite a human, which is very dangerous because it can carry a variety of diseases. If a person is attacked by a bat, they will be treated as if that animal were potentially ‘rabid’, in the event that for whatever reason the person attacked by the bat has not gone to the emergency room, you should know that you can leave in the following days. The vaccine will be effective and enough.

References

WHO.int

Nationalgeographic.com

Wikipedia.org

Hi, I am Martin, I am a pet lover! I own a Golden retriever and a Long-eared Owl. They keep me company & I often had questions about them which I couldn't find answers for online. I put this hub together for people like me & you.

Leave a Comment