I saw the rabies warning on the bats - shouldn't that go for all the 
mammals since they can all be potential carriers (like the squirrel 
that wasn't afraid of people or the unresponsive vole - those are 
rabies symptoms) and any slow enough to be caught and handled are likely ill in some way?

I did a web search on +"frequency of rabies" and +bats and found the following from a Texas newspaper:

"Myth: Bats carry rabies.
Fact: Like all mammals, bats can contract rabies, but they are not 
asymptomatic carriers of the virus. When a bat gets rabies, it 
usually dies. Also, the frequency of rabies in bats is very low."
Source: Bat Conservation International

Another web site claimed the chance of a bat having rabies was less than that of a cow, but they didn't site a source.

I also found a bat conservation web site (batcrew.com) with probably the most well worded safety warning of the sites I had found:

"Unfortunately one of the biggest fears contributing to the 
misunderstanding of bats, is they all 'carry' rabies. Like other 
mammals, bats do contract rabies. However, research generally cites that only half of 1% of bats have rabies. That does not mean you should handle them: they will bite because they are afraid of you." 

"If you are bitten by any animal that could be rabid—or if saliva 
gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound—wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and get medical advice immediately. "

Another Canadian site suggested that if bit by a bat or other rodent, 
it should be killed with great care taken not to crush the head
since cerebro-spinal fluid must be sampled for a postmortem rabies 

And I peeked through the Center for Disease Control website...

"When people think about bats, they often imagine things that are not true. Bats are not blind. They are neither rodents nor birds. They will not suck your blood -- and most do not have rabies. "

"Any mammal can get rabies. The most common wild reservoirs of rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes. Domestic mammals can also get rabies. Cats, cattle, and dogs are the most frequently reported rabid domestic animals in the United States."

"Bats account for less than 10% of the approximately 7,000–9,500 
cases of animal rabies reported in the United States each year."

I also learned that while humans can be known to carry rabies, there have only been 8 known cases of a human contracting rabies from another human.  All of them were recipients of cornea transplants in third world nations and the donors had died of either confirmed rabies, or had shown symptoms compatible with a diagnosis of rabies.

Submitted by: Bill Mills, bill@CORIN.com on 10/13/2001
Thanks Bill Mills!

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