Testing Bats for Rabies

Residents are strongly advised to submit bats found in homes to board of health for rabies testing

Rabies Transmission

Bats are an animal species that can become infected with rabies. Rabies can be transmitted to humans and family pets from the bites of or other types of exposures to infected animals.  Bats are natural carriers of rabies. These animals normally roost in protected outdoor areas or in attics of buildings. During the extreme heat of the summer, bats search out cooler places, including the living space of residences to roost and raise their young. This migration of bats into the living areas of homes increases the risk of exposure to bats by humans and pets (dogs and cats). 

If you find a bat in your home that might have had an exposure to an occupant, it is advised that you trap the bat in a small container and contact the Board of Health for its testing for rabies.

Free Rabies Testing

Given the danger of rabies infection, the Board of Health will facilitate the free testing of potentially rabid animals by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health State Lab. The test results are used as one of the primary tools to assess the risk of rabies infection to exposed humans and animals and whether preventative rabies vaccination is recommended.

Submitting Bats

  1. Bats found inside a residence should be trapped and contained in small, covered containers.  Click here for additional information on capturing bats in homes.
  2. Upon notification, the Board of Health will pick up the contained specimens at the resident’s home during normal business hours. Specimens contained after-hours or during weekends will be picked up by the Board of Health on the next business day.
  3. Specimens are brought back to the Board of Health office of the legally required packaging and then shipped off to the State Lab for testing.
  4. Results are usually available from the Lab on the day following the specimen pick-up.

Contact Information

The direct phone number for the Board of Health is 413-565-4140. There is voice mail for messages left after hours or when the office personnel are otherwise unable to answer the call.  For email access to Board Of Health Department, email Town Hall.