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  • New Orleans Educational Article of the Month - What diseases do bats carry?

What diseases do bats carry?

What diseases do bats carry?
There are many New Orleans wildlife animals that carry a number of diseases which can prove dangerous for human health; however, bats are one the species most obviously targeted when diseases transition is in question. This might be due to their very physical appearance and popularized belief in our culture where bats are seen as something sinister and evil. But there is some truth to this claim, and our hard-wired fear of bats, as they do in fact carry some highly dangerous diseases which can prove fatal for humans.

There are two main diseases which are carried by Louisiana bats with the chance of infecting humans in New Orleans, LA. Namely these are the most commonly known rabies contracted by a bat bite and histoplasmosis which is a lung disease that can be contracted by coming in contact with bat feces, or guano.

Firstly, what is rabies? It is a highly dangerous and infectious virus caused by Lyssavirus Rabies. It mainly affects the immune system of the victim and it enters the body through the blood stream when a person is bitten. It is incredibly important to seek proper treatment and medical help as soon as possible, since time is crucial, and consequences can be deadly if that time period is missed. Often times the incubation can last up to a month depending on each case, and symptoms may not even become visible during the first 30 days. However, once they start showing up, it has already been too late, and the mostly likely outcome for an infected person is death. The virus causes the nervous system to go completely haywire, causing incredible convulsions, cramps, unsustainable pain that leads to hallucinations; eventually infected people completely lose their minds. It can only be prevented by a fast reaction of anti-rabies shots.

Secondly, the disease that can affect our lungs is the result of inhalation of fungal spores of Histoplasma Capsulatum found in the environments filled with bat guano. However, most of the people that do inhale do spores might not get sick at all. All of this depends on the immune system of an individual in New Orleans, but if the spores do cause an infection and are left untreated, this can lead to serious complications that can cause scarring and bleeding of the lungs, spleen and other organs as well. In case that an infection is confirmed the best bet would be the use of an anti-fungal medicine such as Itraconazole. Following all medical advice given by your doctor is important, and the best way to deal with these diseases is to properly protect yourself in the first place and avoid contracting them. Leave the job of dealing with bats to the professionals and preserve your health.

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