Rabies & Bats

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

North Eastern Ohio Big Brown Bat

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is an infectious viral disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People cannot get rabies from contact with bat feces, blood, urine, or by touching its fur; but bats should NOT be handled with bare hands. People can get rabies from the bite of an animal infected with rabies.

How Can I Tell If a Bat Has Rabies?

Rabies can be confirmed only in a laboratory. However, any bat active during the day, found where bats are not usually seen, or unable to fly, is more likely than others to be rabid. Therefore it is best to never handle any bat with your bare hands.

What Is Considered A Rabies Exposure?

  • A bite from a rabid bat.
  • Saliva or brain tissue from a rabid bat gets into a scratch, wound, or mucous membrane.
Potential exposure
  • A bat in the room with a sleeping person or unattended child.
  • A bat near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person.
  • A bat in the firewood hand-carried into the house.
NOT Exposure
  • A bat flying nearby.
  • Bat feces, blood, or urine.
  • A bat seen in your attic or in a cave.
  • Touching an object a bat had touched.
  • Touching a bat on it's fur.

What Should I Do If I Have An Exposure?

Rabies is a medical urgency not an emergency, but decisions must not be delayed. Any wounds should be immediately washed and medical attention from a health care professional should be sought for any trauma due to an animal attack before considering the need for rabies vaccination. The need for rabies vaccination should be evaluated under the advisement of your physician and/or a state or local health department official. Decisions to start vaccination, known as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP), will be based on your type of exposure, the animal you were exposed to, as well as laboratory and surveillance information for the area where the exposure occurred. For more information on what to do in case of an exposure visit the CDC's web page on Rabies.

When Should I Contact The Health Department?

If you have an EXPOSURE or a POTENTIAL EXPOSURE, see above, for either humans or pets, contact us at 330-296-4478.

For more information regarding bats and rabies please visit the Centers for Disease Control Rabies Web Page.