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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 06:25 GMT
Bats to undergo rabies test
Daubenton's Bat
Some bats are known to carry rabies
A Scottish project is to make the first attempt to test live bats for rabies in Britain.

Tests carried out on dead bats have already shown that a few in the UK carry the disease.

However, it not yet known how widespread rabies is in the bat population.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will attempt to shed light on the subject through a pilot project.

David McRae
Mr McRae died from a rare strain of rabies

It is due to start blood testing live bats for rabies in the next few days.

Scotland's main conservation agency hopes this will establish the best approach for future monitoring of rabies in bats.

Rabies is an infection of the nervous system caused by a virus which is usually transmitted by a bite from an infected animal.

Last year a Scottish researcher became the first person in the UK to die from the disease for 100 years.

David McRae, from Angus, died in November after he contracted European Bat Lyssavirus (EBL), a rare strain of the infection.

'No risk'

The 56-year-old, who was licensed to handle bats, was thought to have been bitten by one of the creatures on at least one occasion.

SNH imposed restrictions on the number of people handling bats following case.

However, it stressed that there was no risk to the public from bats and no evidence to suggest the virus could be transmitted to other animals.

The SNH pilot project will be featured on BBC One Scotland's Landward programme at 1130 GMT on Sunday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Lindsay Cannon
"Bats have had a bad press of late"
See also:

25 Nov 02 | Scotland
24 Nov 02 | Scotland
19 Nov 02 | Scotland
19 Nov 02 | Scotland
24 Nov 02 | Scotland
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