How can I identify a bat bite

Risk of rabies from bats

Status: 13.09.2016 13:53 | archive
Do not touch sick bats.

Their teeth are as sharp as pins and can even penetrate gloves. But the saliva of bats can be more dangerous: it can contain all kinds of bacteria and viruses, in African species even the Ebola virus. Even here in the north, a bat bite can be life-threatening: Rabies viruses have been detected in some bats in the Leer district, which are transmitted when they are bitten. If the person concerned is not injected with an antidote within a few days, it can be fatal.

Beware of sick animals

The problem: Bats are increasingly found on the street or on the ground in the garden. Often times people pick up the animals to help them. It happens that the animals snap shut with their sharp teeth. If you get a fever afterwards, this is a possible sign of rabies. When bitten, the viruses enter the bite wound with the animal's saliva, where they remain for a few days and multiply. Then they make their way over the nerves to the spinal cord - and from there to the brain. This can take a week or several months. The consequences are fatal: life-threatening inflammation of the spinal cord and brain.

Rabies has three stages

The course of rabies in humans can be divided into three stages. In the prodromal stage, uncharacteristic symptoms such as headache and loss of appetite appear after an incubation period of about three to eight weeks. The acute phase is characterized by neurological deficits. Spasms of the throat muscles when swallowing lead to the characteristic flow of saliva. Eventually, the cramps can spread to all of the muscles in the body. Coma occurs in the last stage of the disease. Death usually occurs from respiratory paralysis. If there is no vaccination protection or therapy, there is a maximum of seven days between the appearance of the first symptoms and death.

Subsequent vaccination necessary after a bite

If there is a suspicion of rabies, vaccination must definitely be carried out afterwards - with a so-called passive vaccine, which is injected directly into the wound. This is the only way to prevent possible life-threatening complications. However, the vaccine is only available in special emergency centers. Unfortunately, not all doctors correctly assess the risk of bat rabies: some confuse the rabies viruses of bats with those of foxes. But these have absolutely nothing to do with each other. To be on the safe side, the affected districts in the north have informed all doctors about the danger posed by the bats - and about how to vaccinate immediately in an emergency.

Noticeable cluster of infected bats

A noticeable number of bats are currently infected in the north. The bat rabies viruses differ significantly from those of other animals. The local bats have three different rabies viruses. Only some of the 25 species are affected, but they are very widespread in the north. Bat experts suspect that the animals found too little food in the wet summer and that their immune system is therefore weakened, so that the viruses multiply in their bodies. The animals get sick, fall weakly to the ground and are found. They then often bite into panic.

Only experts in the laboratory can prove whether an animal carries rabies viruses. You can't tell by looking at the animal, but you have to reckon with it if it behaves atypically: If it's on the floor or crosses over during the day, something is wrong, experts warn. Should it be necessary to retrieve a bat, it should not be touched with bare hands. Even gloves do not offer sufficient protection against the small, very sharp teeth. Experts recommend placing the animal in a sturdy container with a dustpan or shovel, or calling the veterinary office.

Bats don't attack humans

By the way: rabies is only transmitted to skin wounds via saliva. There is no danger from feces. Without direct contact with the animals, homeowners with a bat roost, for example in the roof structure, are not exposed to any increased risk. As long as you don't touch the animals, even rabid bats won't attack humans.

Interview partner in the post:

Dr. med. vet. Angelika Hepp, veterinarian
Veterinary and Food Inspection Office
Friesenstrasse 30, 26789 Leer (East Frisia)

Axel Roeschen, biologist
Managing Director NABU Umweltpyramid
Huddelberg 14, 27432 Bremervörde

Mechthild Schäpker, deputy medical officer
Health department in the district of Leer
Jahnstrasse 4, 26789 Leer
Email: [email protected]

Theodor Poppen, regional bat supervisor
Aurich district
Office for Planning and Nature Conservation
Fischteichweg 7-13, 26603 Aurich
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Norbert Heising, managing director
Zweckverband Veterinäramt JadeWeser
Head of the Veterinary Department
P.O. Box 2169, 26414 Schortens
Email: [email protected]

Additional Information:
Charitéstraße 3, 10117 Berlin
Bat hotline: (030) 28 49 84 50 00
Internet: Pflanzen/saeugetiere/fledermaeuse/arten/

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Visit | 09/13/2016 | 8:15 pm