A total of 1,745, 362, and 536 bats collected in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, respectively, was tested for rabies virus between 1979 and 1983. Only one (0.1%) of 769 bats collected at random from buildings was infected with rabies virus in contrast to 95 (5%) of 1,874 symptomatic, rabies-suspect bats submitted for testing. The pattern of infection in the rabies-suspect bats was similar in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but differed in British Columbia. Rabies was diagnosed in four species of bats in each of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but in seven species in British Columbia. Annual prevalence in rabies-suspect bats was similar in colonial species within each province. Rabies was found rarely in suspect little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) (<1%). In suspect big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), the prevalence was low in Saskatchewan (3%), moderate in Alberta (10%), and high in British Columbia (25%). Big brown bats accounted for over 55% of the rabid bats detected in each province. Annual prevalence reported in silver-haired bats (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) was variable in all three provinces. Rabies is enzootic in northern insectivorous bats.
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