Risks of Rabies from Bats
Be Informed and Aware
Eighteen months ago, I reported on my parents' encounter with a bat in my hub entitled, Displaced Bats: The Latest Public Health Concern? That situation prompted my parents to seek treatment and receive the rabies vaccine series.
Fortunately, my mother realized very early on that the inexplicable scratch on her hand could be related to the bat she found flying in her bedroom during the night before. Had she not pieced the events together, then I very well could have been reporting on a story with a very different and far more unpleasant outcome.
Such was not the case for another gentleman in my parents' home state who recently succumbed to rabies encephalitis -- the first human case contracted in that state since 1935. This story hit very close to home for my parents, and my mother in particular was praying for the best for this gentleman. After all, she had something in common with him -- both had been bitten by a bat. Regrettably, this gentleman was apparently unaware of his exposure to the rabies virus through a bite from a small brown bat, and he did not obtain the rabies vaccine, which could have saved his life.
The CDC continues to report that statistically only roughly 1% of bats are actually infected with rabies. Yet, as encounters between humans and bats continue to rise, so does the risk of transmission of the disease to humans. Closer to home, residents in the capital of my home state have been advised to watch out for a rabid pet bat that was recently released in the city after having bitten a human.
My original hub also stated that there are measures that can be taken to eradicate bats from the home safely and effectively. Although it took some convincing, I managed to persuade my parents that they should have a professional evaluate their home. As a result of that evaluation, the professionals were able to detect fecal evidence that underscored the fact that the bat that bit my mother was likely living at the house. Through careful placement of eradication devices and plugging of all holes, cracks, and crevices, I am very happy to report that this past summer (2011) was an uneventful one -- at least in terms of bat encounters.
The bottom line is that the issue of bat rabies and human risk is real and the consequences potentially deadly, particularly if undetected and left untreated. It is time to sound the alarm about this ongoing public health issue. Being informed and aware is the first step toward prevention against contracting a disease that still remains incurable and fatal in most, if not all, cases without early and proper intervention through vaccination.