Emergency Medicine Book


Bat Bite

Aka: Bat Bite
  1. See Also
    1. Animal Bite
    2. Rabies
    3. Rabies Prophylaxis
  2. Pathophysiology
    1. Most bats are Insectivores and bite only in self defense
      1. Vampire bats (3 species, esp. Brazil) also bite to drink blood
      2. Rabid bats, however, may be aggressive and bite without provocation
    2. Numerous bat species, but most are small (4 g to 30 g)
    3. Rabies Transmission
      1. Bites (typically small, often undetectable perforations)
      2. Scratches
      3. Infected Saliva in contact with broken skin
  3. Findings: BIte Wound
    1. Insectivore Bat wounds
      1. Small punctures (difficult to identify)
    2. Vampire Bat wounds (e.g. Brazil)
      1. Upper incisors and canine teeth slice skin (instead of puncture) and typically result in bleeding wounds
  4. Labs: Rabies Identification in Bats
    1. Capturing the bat for testing
      1. Wear work gloves and protective clothing
      2. Wait for bat to land on a surface
      3. Slowly cover the bat with a plastic container
      4. Slide a covering between surface and container
      5. Turn container over and tape cover in place
      6. Punch air holes through container
      7. If bat is not alive, keep cool, but do not freeze
    2. Bring the bat to a designated diagnostic lab
      1. Lab performs Rabies virus Antigen testing in post-mortem brain tissue
  5. Management
    1. See Rabies Prophylaxis
    2. Rabies Prophylaxis Indications
      1. Direct human contact with a bat in which the bat cannot be tested for Rabies
      2. Possible bat inflicted wound
        1. Bites
        2. Scratches
        3. Infected Saliva in contact with broken skin
      3. Possible bat exposure when bat when in same room with patient
        1. Unattended sleeping person
        2. Child, intoxicated patient, cognitively impaired person
  6. References
    1. Fenton (2020) Facets 5(1): 367-80 [PubMed]

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