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12 December 2002
Letters reproduced from the Dundee Courier regarding rabies in
Tragedy provides evidence of need for balance, 26/11/02
Culling bats is not an option, 30/11/02
Human beings should not face cull by bats, 06/12/02
Tragedy provides evidence of need for balance
Dundee Courier, 26/11/02
Sir, - Surely the time has come when a sense of
balance should prevail over the politically correct enthusiasm for
the preservation and protection of every creature apart from the
The horrifying evidence of the need for such a
balance is the tragedy which has befallen Mr McRae, and our prayers
and thoughts are with his family.
But the general public had no idea that bats could
be carriers of rabies. When laws were made to protect these creatures,
living in our homes, we were certainly not informed of this possibility.
We are informed that rabies is not endemic in
this country - as with foot-and-mouth disease, it has to be brought
in from elsewhere. With cattle, the disease manifested itself on
a sick beast, but it did not kill human beings. But with bats it
seems no evidence manifests itself and, whilst they do not die from
it, we do.
Where was the bat that killed Mr McRae located?
Where is it now? Is it still distributing its contaminated body
fluids and faeces? How many others is that place are affected? How
many others in our country are carriers?
When foot-and-mouth disease was discovered, millions
of unaffected cattle were slaughtered, and many livelihoods were
lost. Should bats be treated differently?
There are bats living in my house. They do not
always remain in the attics - some have been seen flying in the
house. At no time did we think we were in danger of rabies should
one have bitten us.
The public have been kept in ignorance of the threat that lies in
their own homes. Why? For the protection of the bats?
We do not know the number of rabies-carrying bats
in our midst, we are ignorant of the means of detecting the disease,
and ignorant of the means of curing it once it has struck.
Culling bats is not an option
Dundee Courier, 30/11/02
Sir, - David McRae would not have wanted his tragic
death to be used as justification for a cull of the bats that he
worked so hard to protect (Tragedy provides evidence of need for
balance, November 26).
From tests on more than 3000 bats, we do know
that the incidence of rabies is tiny: only two have been found to
be infected over the last 15 years. Indeed, the respected bacteriologist
Professor Hugh Pennington describes the rabies risk as vanishingly
Bats are not distributing contaminated body
fluids and faeces as the virus is carried in the saliva. A
risk only arises if one is bitten by a bat. Nor are we ignorant
of the means of curing (rabies) once it has struck. Effective
post-exposure treatment is readily available.
Culling bats is not an option. It is not practical
or economically viable, it would not deliver more effective protection
from rabies and bats are protected by European legislation because
of their increasing rarity. Bat populations have crashed since the
beginning of the 20th century and culling could drive the populations
We have learnt from continental Europe where people
are content to live with European Bat Lyssaviruses. The Bat Conservation
Trust intends to continue working in close partnership with the
relevant bodies to carry out active research into the extent of
EBLs in the UK.
Jean Stubbs need not fear contracting rabies if she does not handle
Human beings should not face cull by bats
Dundee Courier, 6th December 2002
Sir, - I am glad to know that rabies is only caught
from the saliva of a bat, and not by its body fluids. I always thought
that saliva was a body fluid.
I would be grateful if the ladies who kindly
wrote following my letter about bats and rabies could tell me whether
the 3000 bats tested for rabies were alive at the time of the test?
We were reliably informed that in the case of
the Tayside fatality, the illness could only be confirmed as rabies
after the victim's death. Is it possible to test bats for rabies
before death? We do know that they do not die from the virus.
I did not request that there should be a total
cull of bats, merely that humans should not suffer any sort of cull
due to bats. Where bats inhabit our homes should we not have been
warned that they are carriers of rabies?
They are known to enter people's living area,
how do these ladies suggest they are removed? Are bat conservationists
available for this task or should the homeowners move out?
If a plumber or other work person is asked to
enter lofts where there are bats, who is responsible for their safety?
One might unwittingly put their hand on a bat and it bites them.
What then? I am surprised to learn that bats are in short supply
- most people think that there are millions of them about.
However, before compelling us ordinary mortals,
not inflicted with batmania, to house unwelcome guests, who may
inflict a hideous death on us should we attempt to physically evict
them, I think that we should be told of the risks and responsibilities
involved however small these risks might be.
A very great deal has still to be learned regarding
carrier bats - not least by the bat conservationists.