Risk of rabies from bats: Never touch animals with your bare hands

Rabies virus detected: stay away from bats
Rabid bats have been found in various places in Germany in recent weeks. Rabies is still one of the most dangerous infectious diseases. If left untreated, it can lead to fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Experts advise you not to touch bats with your bare hands.

Detected virus can lead to rabies in humans
The Oder-Spree district (Brandenburg) has warned of rabid bats. "The behavioral bats were found helplessly in the community of Grünheide and in Eisenhuettenstadt," says a message. The Berlin-Brandenburg State Laboratory was able to detect the type I European bat rabies virus in both animals. "The type of virus found can also lead to rabies diseases in humans due to bite injuries or contact," warns the district.

Woman was bitten by bat
Rabies was also found in a bat in Lower Saxony. According to a report by the "Nordwest-Zeitung" (NWZ), the animal had bitten a woman who discovered the bat during the day and wanted to pick it up with gardening gloves. "The woman has been vaccinated and given antidotes," said Dr. Norbert Heising, head of the Jade-Weser Veterinary Office, based in Roffhausen, in the NWZ.

Bat rabies differs from that of foxes
As the veterinarian explained, bat rabies is a separate occurrence that can be distinguished from the more dangerous rabies of foxes and other animals: According to him, rabies is not unusual in bats, especially in northern Germany.

According to the information, only saliva is infectious in animals suffering from rabies. “Neither do infected bats actively attack humans or other animals. A transmission of the rabies virus ’from bats to humans is rare but not excluded,” said Heising.

Danger largely eliminated in Germany
Rabies is still considered one of the most dangerous infectious diseases worldwide. Over 15 million people are treated with suspected rabies each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 50,000 and 60,000 people die each year from the preventable disease. Most of them in Asia and Africa.

Germany is one of the countries in Europe where rabies in wild animals and domestic animals have been eradicated, but bats continue to be a natural reservoir for rabies pathogens.

After a bite, see a doctor
The rabies caused by viruses - in the unvaccinated - in many cases causes fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). If there is a bite, the area must be cleaned thoroughly and a doctor consulted. If one waits to see whether rabies symptoms appear, then it is usually too late for therapy. Infection with the rabies pathogen is usually treated with immediate active vaccination and with special antibodies (immunoglobulin). Preventive vaccination is also available.

The first signs of the disease include non-specific symptoms such as fever, a general feeling of illness, headache, nausea and vomiting. Typical rabies symptoms, which occur in 50 to 80 percent of cases, are itching and pain or sensation disorders near the bite. At this stage it may be too late for treatment.

Do not touch animals with your bare hands
The Veterinary and Food Surveillance Office of the Oder-Spree district advises careful handling of wild animals: “Wild animals should not be touched! Capturing or recovering sick, injured or dead wild animals must be done with expert knowledge. "

According to the experts, bats suffering from rabies mostly lie on the ground and show abnormal behavior such as attacking nearby objects, difficulty finding their bearings or being unable to fly.

No matter whether in apparently healthy, sick or injured animals: bats should only be handled with protective gloves that protect against bite injuries and infection with pathogens. (ad)

Author and source information

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