Several highly fatal diseases have been linked to bats. Rabies is perhaps the most well known disease associated with bats. Along with animals such as dogs, foxes, raccoons, and skunks, bats are one of the primary animals that transmit rabies.
An exposure to rabies most commonly occurs when a person is bitten by a rabid animal. It can also be transmitted when the saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with a person's mouth, eyes, nose, or a fresh wound.
When a person is exposed to rabies, timely administration of a vaccine known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent infection. Once a person becomes infected and symptoms begin to occur, rabies is almost always fatal. Each year in the United States, up to 30,000 persons receive PEP due to potential exposure to a rabid animal, including bats.
Its symptoms vary greatly, but the disease primarily affects the lungs. Occasionally, other organs are affected. When this happens it can be fatal if untreated.
In addition, Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus that grows in soil and material contaminated with droppings from animals, including bats. Droppings, also known as bat guano, can contaminate the soil and cause infectious spores to be released when the soil is disturbed.