Health Protection Agency to Fly Anglers: Watch Out for Bats

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has issued a warning to fly fishermen asking them not to handle any bats which they might accidentally hook while fly fishing. Daubenton’s bats, commonly seen skimming the water’s surface in search of insects, may carry European Bat Lyssavirus 2 (EBLV2), which can cause rabies in those bitten, scratched, or exposed to infected saliva.
“Although it is very rare for bats to pass this virus on to humans, fly fishermen should never handle these animals directly.” said Dr. Hilary Kirkbride, an epidemiologist at the HPA.
Kirkbride goes on to say that, “If a bat is accidentally hooked while fishing, the angler should try to land the bat on the riverbank, where it may free itself from the line. If handling the bat cannot be avoided, then appropriate thick protective gloves should be worn at all times.”

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