How Bats Prevent Disease

Did you know that a single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in one hour? Worldwide, mosquitoes are responsible for more illnesses and deaths in humans than all other animals put together. When mosquito populations rage out of control, so do rates of diseases like malaria, West Nile Virus, dengue, and zika— plus many illnesses affecting pets and livestock, such as heartworm and equine encephalitis.

Because bats sometimes carry rabies, many people live in extreme fear of catching diseases if there are bats around. In reality, bats deserve the opposite reputation— as disease preventers rather than disease spreaders. We can help reduce the rapid spread of mosquito-borne illnesses by building bat houses, protecting bat habitat, and electing to relocate (rather than exterminate) bats found in human homes, whenever possible.

Of course, it is always important to be wary of rabies. Although only about 1% of bats have rabies, you should never handle a bat, and should seek emergency care immediately if you were bitten by one. However, simply having bats in your area doesn’t pose a danger. It actually helps protect you!

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