Bat season brings rabies exposure risks

Cochise County residents are being reminded to take extra precautions as night time temperatures start to dip, and bats begin their annual migration. That means bat activity will increase from dusk to dawn as they seek out warmer places to reside.

Cochise Health & Social Services is asking the public to help reduce exposure to rabies – bats can carry the virus for an extended period and do not succumb to the disease as other mammals do – by following some common-sense advice, such as keeping doors and windows without adequate screens closed, especially at night.

“In Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposure to humans because rabid bats often fall to the ground where they are easily accessible to people and pets,” said Health Director Carrie Langley. “Bats are generally not aggressive. Exposure to rabid bats usually occurs when people pick up or handle a sick or dead bat.”

Other rabies exposures occur when people try to approach or feed wild animals, or in some cases, are attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats, and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone. The last documented human rabies death in Arizona was in 1981.
“As bat activity increases the potential for an interaction with domestic animals and pets also increases,” added Langley. “Please ensure your animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccine and report any direct human or domestic animal contact with bats.”

For more information about rabies prevention visit https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/rabies/