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Center for Acute Disease Epidemiology
Iowa Department of Public Health





 

Bats living in homes can pose danger:

People are finding more bats inside their homes. Many Iowans are unaware of the potential danger of bats living in homes. Although the prevalence of rabies in bats is very low, bats can become infected with rabies and can transmit the disease to humans and pets. If prompt treatment is not administered, a bite or scratch from a rabid bat can be deadly.

If a sleeping person, a young child or a mentally incapacitated person is found alone with a bat in the same room and the possibility of a bite cannot be eliminated, that person should be treated promptly with post exposure rabies treatments. If the bat dies, and its head is not damaged, it should be kept cold and is delivered to an appropriate laboratory for rabies testing. If the bat is found to be negative for rabies, humans that may have been exposed to the bat do not need treatment.

There are also other ways to avoid rabies exposure:

1. Bat-proof homes.
2. Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets (whether they go outside or not) and horses.
3. Keep pets under direct supervision so they do not come in contact with wild animals.
4. Call the local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood.
5. Avoid contact with wild animals.
6. Do not feed wild animals.
7. Avoid contact with sick or injured stray animals or wildlife.

For more information on rabies check out the Iowa Department of Public Health Rabies page.  

 
University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) tests animals that might have exposed humans to rabies. Bats and other animals found dead who have not exposed humans are not routinely tested. For information on animal rabies testing, visit the State Hygenic Labratory at the University of Iowa.

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