Rabies is an infection of the central nervous system. It can be fatal unless the person receives post-exposure vaccinations soon after exposure.
The rabies virus is transmitted primarily when the saliva of an infected animal enters the victim’s bloodstream. Without treatment, rabies may develop within 3 weeks to 3 months.
Over the past 25 years, the United States has averaged 1.5 deaths a year for people exposed to rabies by bats. These people had not been treated after exposure, either because they did not realize they were bitten or scratched, did not understand the danger, or did not take it seriously. A bat bite can be tiny or even invisible to the human eye.
In 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that 1,692 cases of rabies were associated with bats.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) maintains summary reports of the species and number of animals tested in each county as well as the results of those tests. These reports are posted at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/rabies/cases/statistics.
In 2009, a total of 13,220 animals were tested for rabies in Texas. Of those, 12,390 tested negative (not rabid) and 830 tested positive. The results for the 3,862 bats tested that year were 3,419 negative and 443 positive.
The Texas counties with the most bats testing positive for rabies in 2009 were Travis (102 positive results from 724 tests), Harris (91 of 976), El Paso (35 of 241), Williamson (24 of 147), and Smith (22 of 102).
Just released from Texas Tech University, Natural Science Research Laboratory, reviewed Texas county records of bats submitted for rabies testing. Noteworthy County Records for 14 Bat Species Based on Specimens Submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services this report looked at the bat species , where it was located (distribution) and what we know about their local habitat.