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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Living With Bats

Rabies

Rabies is a virus that is not prevalent among bat populations in Alaska. Since the 1970s hundreds of bats have been tested for rabies. There are only four documented cases of bats with rabies in Alaska, all from Southeast Alaska and none of those bats transmitted the disease to a human. There has been only 1 case of rabies in a little brown bat, the species most likely to be encountered by humans. That bat was found in Ketchikan in 1993. The other three bats were all Keen’s myotis, a forest bat. Two of the rabid Keen’s bats were trapped by researchers on Prince of Wales Island (in 2006 and 2014) and the third was found in Wrangell in 2014.

Manifestations of Rabies in bats

  • Fly during daytime (this may also be typical of juvenile bats shortly after weaning)
  • Remain in “open” night roosts or in atypical places by day (also seen in healthy young bats)
  • Roost alone (healthy male bats may also roost singly)
  • Fly slowly or uncertainly, sometimes blundering into objects while in flight (also seen in healthy young bats)
  • Unable to fly; paralysis and weakness leading to tremors and vocalization or death
  • Move in an uncoordinated manner or thrash on the ground
  • Animals may be thin, dehydrated and hypothermic
  • Noise elicits squeaking from infected bats-healthy bats are generally quiet and motionless (this may also be typical of juvenile bats shortly after weaning)

If a human or pet has come into contact with a bat

Please call the Alaska Section of Epidemiology at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (ADHSS) immediately if:

  • There has been any penetration of the skin by teeth or claws
      or
  • Open wounds or mucous membranes have been contaminated by saliva or other potentially infectious material.

ADHSS is open 24 hours a day for consultation and to answer any rabies-related questions.

  • Call (907) 269-8000 during 8 am to 5 pm, Monday–Friday
  • Call (800) 478-0084 at all other times.

Please report the bat to the ADF&G Threatened, Endangered and Diversity Species Program or your local Alaska Department of Fish and Game office so they can coordinate with ADHSS and the ADF&G Veterinarian.

If there has been no human or pet exposure

Report the bat by contacting the ADF&G Threatened, Endangered and Diversity Species Program or your local ADF&G office and completing the online Bat Report Form (Word doc 35 kB).