bats and rabies
According to Greek myth, the goddess Diana was bathing naked with her nymphs when
Actaeon the hunter, fascinated by her beauty, crept up to watch.
Diana spotted him and in her rage turned all his hounds mad.
Henceforth the Earth had rabies...
On a more serious note, rabies is a viral disease which can be contracted
by any mammal. In practice species differ in their susceptibility and
symptoms. Rabies is an acute and deadly viral infection of the central
nervous system of humans and other warm-blooded animals. Caused by a virus
that is in the saliva of infected animals, rabies is usually transmitted
by bites from infected animals. This disease causes a fatal inflammation
of the brain, or of the brain and the spinal cord.
Rabies is almost always transmitted by a bite; however, non-bite exposures
can and do occur. Contact with an infected animal’s saliva through an
open wound or through the mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth), can
result in rabies. According to Bat
Conservation International, careless handling is the primary source
of rabies exposure from bats.
For more detailed information see the Bat Conservation Trust's webpage on
DEFRA: Rabies Information
FAQ on rabies vaccinations (aimed at Licensed Bat Workers)
Scottish Natural Heritage: 'Bats & Human Health' (pdf, 97Kb)