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Biosafety practices when working with bats: A guide to field research considerations

September 14, 2022

Introduction: Field work with bats is an important contribution to many areas of research in environmental biology and ecology, as well as microbiology. Work with bats poses hazards such as bites and scratches, and the potential for exposure to infectious pathogens such as rabies virus. It also exposes researchers to many other potential hazards inherent to field work, such as environmental conditions, delayed emergency responses, or challenging work conditions.

Methods: This article discusses the considerations for a thorough risk assessment process around field work with bats, pre- and post-occupational health considerations, and delves into specific considerations for areas related to biosafety concerns—training, personal protective equipment, safety consideration in field methods, decontamination, and waste. It also touches on related legal and ethical issues that sit outside the realm of biosafety, but which must be addressed during the planning process.

Discussion: Although the focal point of this article is bat field work located in northern and central America, the principles and practices discussed here are applicable to bat work elsewhere, as well as to field work with other animal species, and should promote careful considerations of how to safely conduct field work to protect both researchers and animals.

Publication Year 2022
Title Biosafety practices when working with bats: A guide to field research considerations
DOI 10.1089/apb.2022.0019
Authors Alvaro Aguilar-Setién, Nidia Aréchiga-Ceballos, Gary A. Balsamo, Amy J. Behrman, Hannah K. Frank, Gary R. Fujimoto, Elizabeth Gilman Duane, Thomas Warner Hudson III, Shelley M. Jones, Luis A. Ochoa Carrera, Gregory L. Powell, Carrie Alison Smith, Joni Triantis Van Sickle, Susan E. Vleck
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Applied Biosafety
Index ID 70237819
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center