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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910On-line version ISSN 1518-8787

Rev. Saúde Pública vol. 32 n. 5 São Paulo Oct. 1998 

Notas e Informações

Notes and Information


Rabies in the insectivorous bat Tadarida brasiliensis in Southeastern Brazil

Raiva no morcego insetívoro Tadarida brasiliensisna região Sudeste do Brasil


Wilson Uieda
Departamento de Zoologia do Instituto de Biociências da Universidade Estadual Paulista.Botucatu, SP - Brasil




This is the first recorded case of rabies in the insectivorous bat Tadarida brasiliensis in the State of S. Paulo, Southeastern Brazil. The infected bat was found in the afternoon while hanging on the internal wall of an urban building. This observation reinforces the notion as to the caution one must exercise regarding bats found in unusual situations.

Rabies. Chiroptera.


É registrado o primeiro caso de raiva no morcego insetívoro Tadarida brasiliensis no Estado de São Paulo. O animal raivoso foi encontrado vivo no período da tarde, enquanto pendurado na parede interna de um prédio urbano, o que reforça a noção que se deve ter cuidado com morcegos encontrados em situações não usuais

Raiva. Quirópteros.



Among insectivorous bats, several species of the family Molossidae are gregarious and inhabit urban areas of tropical and temperate regions of the world. Eighteen species of this family have been recorded in Brazil8, most of them being of frequent occurrence in urban areas. The presence of these bats in this kind of environment may be inconvenient for people due to their presence around houses, inside attics and roofs, and the accumulation of feces or transmission of diseases3. The main disease known to be associated with bats is rabies1,3,4 and 27 species have already presented positive test results for it in Brazil3, 7.

In the region of Botucatu, S. Paulo, rabid specimens have been recently found only in three species (Desmodus rotundus5, 7, Carollia perspicillata7 and Molossus molossus6, 7).

In the afternoon of February 11th, 1996, it was captured a specimen inside a building belonging to the State University of S. Paulo (UNESP) in Botucatu (48º26'W, 22o 52'S), State of S. Paulo, Southeastern Brazil. The bat was a non-reproductive adult male Tadarida brasiliensis (Molossidae) that was hanging upside down on a wall at a height of 1.5 m (Fig.). Despite the fact that some people were disturbing it, the bat remained quiet and motionless, showing no aggressive behavior. The specimen was photographed and collected at 15:00h an unusual place and time for a bat to be found and the suspicion was that it was sick, probably with rabies, a suspicion also supported by its behavior, since motionlessness suggests muscle paralysis due to rabies. Uieda et al.6 compiled 19 cases of rabid-infected bats found in unusual situations in urban areas a list of and, according to the authors, muscle paralysis seems to be frequent. Bauer and Crusius2 reported a paralytic and rabid specimen of Tadarida brasiliensis found inside a house in S. Leopoldo, Southern Brazil. That case seems to be similar to this one found in Botucatu.


32n5a14f1.GIF (57248 bytes)

Figure. A rabid specimen of the insectivorous bat Tadarida brasiliensis while hanging on an internal wall of a building from the urban area of Botucatu, S.Paulo, Brazil. From knowledge of the author this is the first picture of a live rabid bat found under natural rabies infection.


The apparently sick animal was sacrificed and sent for laboratorial rabies exams at the "Departamento de Higiene Veterinária e Saúde Pública, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, UNESP". The diagnosis was positive by both the direct immunofluorescence and the animal inoculation tests. This finding adds to the cautionary note made by several authors1,3,4,6 that people must be careful with bats found in unusual situations.

In the ligth of its gregarious habits and its roosting mainly in artificial shelters, a search was made for other individuals of T. brasiliensis in that same building but was unsuccessful. It seemed that the specimen must have been living in some other building nearby and that, due to its illness, had been unable to find its way back. No other infected specimens were found in the same place. These data will be useful in attempting to understand rabies infection in this species in a town of the size of Botucatu (c. 100,000 inhabitants).

The present note is the first record of a rabid individual of T. brasiliensis in the State of S. Paulo and only the second in Brazil.



To Miriam M. Hayashi and Glaucia A. Morelli for field assistance, Drs. Luiz Carlos de Souza and Helio Langoni for the rabies exams of the bat.



1. BAER, G.M. Rabies in nonhematophagous bats. In: Baer, G.M. The natural history of rabies. New York, Academic Press, 1975. p. 79-97.        [ Links ]

2. BAUER, A.G. & CRUSIUS, V.A. Isolamento de vírus rábico de morcego insetívoro no Rio Grande do Sul. In: Conferência Annual da Sociedade Veterinária do Rio Grande do Sul, 4a., Porto Alegre, 1965. Anais. v 2, p. 189-94.        [ Links ]

3. BREDT, A.; ARAUJO, F.A.A.; CAETANO-Jr, J.; RODRIGUES, M.G.R.; YOSHIZAWA, M.; SILVA, M.M.S.; HARMANI, N.M.S.; MASSUNAGA, P.N.T.; BURER, S.P.; PORTO, V.A.R.; UIEDA, W. Morcegos em áreas urbanas e rurais: manual de manejo e controle. Brasília, Fundação Nacional de Saúde, 1996.        [ Links ]

4. CONSTANTINE, D.G. Bat rabies and bat management. Bull. Soc. Vector. Ecol., 4: 1-9, 1979.        [ Links ]

5. CORTÊS, V.A.; SOUZA, L.C.; UIEDA, W.; FIGUEIREDO, A.C. Abrigos diurnos e infecção rábica em morcegos de Botucatu, São Paulo, Brasil. Vet. e Zootec., 6: 179-86, 1994.        [ Links ]

6. UIEDA, W.; HARMANI, N.M.S.; SILVA, M.M.S. Raiva nos morcegos insetívoros (Molossidae) do Sudeste do Brasil. Rev. Saúde Pública, 29: 393-7, 1995.        [ Links ]

7. UIEDA, W.; HAYASHI, M.M.; GOMES, L.H.; SILVA, M.M.S. Espécies de quirópteros diagnosticadas com raiva no Brasil. Bol. Inst. Pasteur, 1: 17-36, 1996.        [ Links ]

8. WORKSHOP sobre a conservação dos morcegos brasileiros. Chiroptera Neotropical, 1: 24-9, 1995.        [ Links ]




Correspondence to: Wilson Uieda - Caixa Postal 510 - 18618-000 Botucatu, SP - Brasil. E-mail:
The publication of this article was supported by FAPESP (Process nº 97/09815-2).
Submitted on 13.4.1998. Approved on 9.6.1998.

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