In November 2002 the bat world was
shocked to hear of the death of a Scottish bat worker, David McRae, from rabies.
It is thought that Mr.McRae contracted rabies from the bite of an infected bat.
This case follows two earlier cases where bats were found to have rabies but
fortunately no people were infected.
The two earlier cases were thought to be bats that were accidentally in this
country by being blown off-course or being imported with goods from Europe, but
the November 2002 case was in a bat that was unlikely to have come from
overseas. This suggests that rabies may be present in a very small number of
It should be stressed that rabies has only been found in a very, very small
number of bats and the only specimens found in this country with the disease
have been Daubenton's bats which live around water and do not occupy houses, and
as such rarely come into contact with humans. You are at no risk if you have not
touched a bat as the virus is transmitted by fluid transfer. Bat workers, who
regularly handle bats, have been advised to have the rabies vaccine, all dead
bats are now being tested for rabies and research projects are underway to
examine the extent of rabies in British bat populations.
If you are at all concerned about rabies as a result of having handled bats in
the past you should contact your doctor for advice.
If you would like more information about the links between bats and rabies
please contact the
Staffordshire Bat Group
Bat Conservation Trust.