We have received a lot of questions at Get Bats Out after the discovery of a rabid bat in Columbus, Indiana late last week. We thought this was a good opportunity to talk about contact with a rabid bat, what to do if you have contact, and what you need to know to deal with it properly.
Rabid Bat Proper Handling
When a resident in Columbus, Indiana was recently bitten by a bat inside their home on the west side of town they did the absolutely right thing by capturing the bat. The bat was then taken to the department of health to check for rabies where it came back positive. The poor individual is now undergoing rabies shots.
Here is a list of some of the questions and answers this has caused many of our clients to ask:
- A bat bit me, what do I do now?!? – First, and super important, is try to catch the bat. If you can catch the bat for testing you may not have to undergo unnecessary rabies shots. Whether you catch the bat or not, your next step is to wash the bite area with soap and water. If it is a rabid bat, it is important to try to stop saliva from getting in an open wound. Although this is not always possible.
- How do I tell if it was a rabid bat? – There really is no way to know for sure unless you capture the bat for testing. This testing is done by dissecting the brain of the bat. This means it is very important that if you kill the bat while trying to capture it that you do not crush the head. It is better to not kill the bat.
- Where do I take a captured bat for testing? – This answer will actually vary state to state. In the case of the rabid bat in Columbus, Indiana, the bat was tested by the local health department. If you are bitten by any wild animal, many areas require you to report it to your local health department.
- Is rabies fatal? – Yes, technically, it is 99.99% fatal. There have been 3 reported patients that have survived rabies exposure since these statistics have been tracked. There was a case just the end of last summer of a woman in Wyoming dying of a rabid bat bite. She was the first person ever in the state of Wyoming.
- How long does it take to see symptoms of rabies? – This answer varies depending on many factors. The proximity of the bite to your head (the closer it is to the brain the less distance it has to travel to make you sick), how much of the virus you are exposed to (a scratch VS a bite), and your own overall health. Symptoms can appear as quickly as 2 weeks but have been known to stay dormant for a year. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better your odds.
- When do I need to see my doctor? – As soon as you can. The sooner you get in the better. See question 5 above for onset of symptoms. Once symptoms set in, there is nothing that can be done for you.
- Will I need rabies shots? – This is a question for your doctor. We are not medical experts, we are bat experts. If you did not manage to catch the bat that bit you, most likely, your doctor will have you undergo rabies shots. See question 4 above for why. It is estimated that a large percentage of people undergo rabies shots unnecessarily. This is one situation that you are definitely better to use the old adage, “better safe than sorry.”
- Do rabies shots hurt? – Yes, rabies shots hurt, but not as much as they used to. In the old days, you had to undergo a series of 10ish shots that had to be administered directly into your stomach. They were VERY painful. That number has been cut down to 5-7 shots that can be administered in the arm or leg and sometimes are given at the bite site. However, they are still painful. This is something to keep in mind if you have young children that have to get shots.
- What do rabies shots cost? – The cost of rabies shots will vary state to state and by the time of year. They truly are on a supply and demand schedule. During the height of summer in more populous areas the cost of the shots will rise significantly. One case we worked on recently was a renter in California. The adult and two children had to undergo rabies shots after sleeping in an area with a known bat infestation. These shots cost them $20,000 per person.
- Does health insurance cover rabies shots? – Sometimes. Many times, no.
Rabid Bat in Columbus, Indiana and What You Can Learn
The main take away that we would like to impart about the rabid bat in Columbus, Indiana is that this latest bat bite case happened inside this person’s home. There is a good possibility that they have a bat infestation inside their home.
Please don’t ignore a bat infestation until it becomes too late and someone get bit. Rabies shots are painful, expensive, and most importantly, SCARY. Possibly being infected with a disease that is considered 100% fatal is one of the most frightening experiences we can go through in life.
Call us today if you have a bat infestation in your home that you are ready to take on.
Your local bat removal expert,