Did you know that bats have been implicated with the most cases of rabies acquired domestically than any other animal in the U.S.? Most people usually perceive bats as harmless creatures hence handling them unwisely. Similarly, most people who have been bitten by bats rarely seek medical attention which is essential as their bites could lead to life-threatening complications.
Harmful effects of bat bites
Bats are known to spread several fatal infections to human beings. Hence, it is very important for those working with bats to poses protection equipment such as gloves and an overall clothing covering every part of the exposed skin to avert infections and diseases that may result from bat bites.
Some of the fatal diseases linked with bat bites include:
This is perhaps the most widespread infection that is linked to bats. Along with animals such as dogs, cats, skunks, and raccoons, bats are among the primary carriers of rabies. Rabies usually occurs when an individual is bitten by a rabid animal.
When bitten by a bat, it is important to ensure you have been timely vaccinated against the infection of rabies by a vaccine referred to as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Failure to do so causes the virus causing rabies, Lyssavirus rabies, to enter the blood stream and attach itself to the nervous system as it works its way along the brain. The symptom usually begins to manifest within months and in few instances immediately.
This yet another disease that is transmitted through bites from bats that are in virulent phase. Histoplasmosis can transmit lung disease to humans with symptoms ranging from mild to severe as the infection spreads. Some of the symptoms associated with Histoplasmosis include; chest pain, chills, fever, coughs, bloody phlegm, shortness of breath and ultimately death. An antifungal medication is usually administered as treatment of Histoplasmosis.
Marburg hemorrhagic fever
Though rabies and Histoplasmosis occur around the world, some infections from bat bites are limited to certain regions of the globe such as the Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The infection kills up to 90% of its victims and is characterized by hemorrhaging from multiple parts of the body.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever
Both Ebola and Marburg virus belong to a group of viruses referred to as filoviruses and both are highly fatal. Ebola is rampant mostly in Africa and can also be transmitted through bat bites.
The following precautions should be adopted by those living in regions that are highly infested with bats:
- Use chimney caps, window screens, and draft caps underneath doors to bat-proof your home
- Caulk any openings that are larger than a quarter-inch to prevent bats from roosting in your home
- Avoid any contact with live and dead bats and always contact the experts to safely catch and dispose them.