What to do after a bat bite: risks and treatment

Getting bitten by a bat is actually a very rare event. These are very timid creatures who have the capability to fly away fast. They use this defense mechanism when they feel threatened, knowing that they often won't survive in up-close contact.

Getting bitten by a bat might not even feel as if you have been bitten at all, and it might not even look much like a bite either. These are animals with very tiny teeth, and their bite marks are often compared to needle pin-pricks rather than the snapping jaw of a vicious little wild animal. It is highly unlikely that you will find yourself in a situation where the rat would or could bite you, but if you were to try and grab at it, attempt to hold it, or capture it in a trap, there's a good chance it would lash out if it were unable to get away.

A sick bat might also bite you. If a child were to find a sick bat on the floor, for example, and then pick it up, thinking the animal were "cute", it could easily bite the child.

If you are bitten, or one of your children gets bitten, and you think it could be a bat that caused the bite, it is wise to seek urgent medical attention. The bite might not look that bad. It might not even look like a bite at all, but it is still a good idea to get it checked out. While you are at home, however, you should immediately wash the wound with water and antibacterial soap. If you are bleeding, stop the flow of blood by applying pressure on it. If you have the bat captured, keep it captured in a safe container that it cannot get out of it (but can still breathe through) and advise medical staff. The bat can be tested, both dead or alive, for diseases, particularly rabies.

It is believed that less than one percent of the entire bat population in the United States of America carries the rabies virus, and it is considered extremely rare for the disease to be passed on from bat to human, but it is still a concern you will need to think about. It is a risk you cannot take, particularly when you have children.

Rabies can be passed on very easily when an infected bat bites a human. It is the saliva that transmits the virus form the bat into a human's bloodstream, and once it is in there, treatment is both necessary and urgent if the infected party wishes to survive. It can take between three to ten days before the symptoms start to show up. By this stage, it is too late for treatment. Rabies is a disease that must receive treatment BEFORE symptoms materialize otherwise death is near-certain. Luckily, if you seek medical attention immediately after you have been bitten by the bat, or as soon as you know you have been bitten by a bat, you can be vaccinated. This usually consists of one injection containing the Human Rabies Immunoglobin antibody, as well as five further shots. These are injected into the muscles that surround the bite itself.

If you are bitten by a bat, you will need to receive these rabies vaccinations unless you can have the bat tested for rabies and it tests negative. If you live in an area that is rife with bats, or you have bats flying regularly above your home / land, it might even be a wise choice to have yourself vaccinated against rabies, and your household pets too if you haven't already done so.

Learn more about Bats in the attic