A young girl from Washington state was bitten by a rabid bat and is now undergoing a series of vaccines in hopes that she doesn’t develop rabies.
The girl, reported to be less than 10 years old, was bitten by the bat on Saturday, and shortly afterward, other visitors to the Liberty Lake Regional Park captured the bat without incident. The bat was then examined by professionals at the Washington State Public Health Laboratories, where it was determined that the animal was infected with rabies.
The girl is currently undergoing treatment to give her the best chance of avoiding the deadly disease, and her mother, who came into contact with the bat but was not bitten, is also undergoing treatment. Health officials in the area are also urging others who may have come into contact with the animal to come in and get checked out.
Rabies is transmitted through the bite of a diseased animal (although on occasion it can be transmitted via saliva as well), and treatment consists of a series of vaccinations that can be given after exposure, which is crucial — the rabies virus is nearly always fatal without treatment. The vaccine series must begin within 14 days of exposure.
Bats in general are really cool animals. We routinely see bats flying around our yard at dusk, and it’s comforting to know they’re gobbling up mosquitoes right and left. But there are a few things you should keep in mind to reduce your chances of getting bitten by a bat and possibly contracting rabies.
- Don’t ever handle live — or dead — bats with your bare hands.
- Ensure your pets (even indoor pets) get their rabies vaccinations.
- Bats don’t normally approach, attack or attempt to bite people or other animals. If they do, you should take care to avoid the animal and call your local animal control or public health office.
- Don’t disturb roosting bats.
- Teach your kids to avoid bats and to let you know if they find one.
- Keep your pets on a leash.
- Avoid sleeping in the open air — always use a tent or camper.
- Bat-proof your home, cabin or camper by plugging in any holes in the structure and ensuring your windows fit well.
- If you experience a bite from a bat, clean the area well with soap and water, and head to the emergency room.
It’s not common to be bitten by a rabid animal, but fortunately if you do experience a bite, treatment is available. Symptoms may not appear for weeks or even months after you’re wounded, so early treatment is crucial for the best outcome.