News Release

Bat Tests Positive for Rabies Within Grand Canyon National Park

A trail at the base of a jagged cliff, on the right passing through a lush riparian area. In the background, towering cliffs.
The North Kaibab Trail passing by Bright Angel Campground, just south of Phantom Ranch. NPS/Photo

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News Release Date: September 14, 2018

Contact: Perri Spreiser, 928-638-7609

Contact: Kari Cobb, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, AZ - Grand Canyon National Park has received confirmation that a bat collected at Phantom Ranch on August 31, 2018 tested positive for rabies. The rabies positive bat did not come in contact with any visitors. Recently, park users have reported an increase in human-bat interactions, including seeing them more often near the river. All individuals who have had physical contact with a bat have been advised to seek medical attention and be assessed for appropriate medical treatment.

Rabies is preventable if medical treatment (called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP) is given following an exposure to a rabid animal, but is almost always fatal if PEP is not given prior to the development of symptoms.

Rabies is a serious disease that can kill both animals and humans. Humans can contract rabies through contact with an infected animal's saliva, such as a bite or scratch. All mammals are susceptible to rabies, including bats, skunks, and foxes. Possible rabies infections should be considered in animals that exhibit unusual or aggressive behavior or that are not afraid of humans.

Grand Canyon National Park would like to remind visitors about the following things they can do to protect themselves from rabies:
  • Never approach or touch wildlife. Please observe and appreciate wildlife from a safe distance. If you see sick or erratic behaving wildlife, notify a park employee or call the park's 24-hour emergency communications center at 928-638-7805.  
  • In areas where pets are allowed, make sure that pets are vaccinated and kept on a leash at all times.
  • Teach children to tell you if they are bitten or scratched by an animal. 
  • Anyone who has had contact with a bat or other wild animal in the park should notify a park employee as soon as possible.  You should consult with your doctor in the event you have contacted an animal thought to be rabid. 
  • While on a river trip take extra precaution and sleep in a tent for protection.
Rabid bats have been documented in 49 states. Every year, cases of rabies in animals are reported in Coconino County in Arizona.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data suggest transmission of rabies virus can occur from even minor or unrecognized bites from bats. Human and domestic animal contact with bats should be minimized.  Bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons or be kept as pets. Public health should be contacted if a bat is found in a room where a person has been sleeping.

Grand Canyon National Park is working with the National Park Service Office of Public Health and Wildlife Health Branch to protect the health and safety of visitors and wildlife in the park by testing any sick or dead wildlife.  The park has additional information available to visitors regarding the bats of Grand Canyon, bat research, and zoonotic diseases.

Last updated: September 24, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023



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