2 need treatment after rabid bat bites Douglas resident
June 21, 2005
A Douglas County resident was recently bitten by a rabid bat, according to Nevada State Epidemiologist Randall Todd.
“Our understanding is, one person was bitten and another handled the bat when (the person) pulled it off,” he said. “That means two individuals have had contact and both are recommended to receive prophylaxis, so they don’t contract the disease.”
The bat was caught and forwarded to an animal disease lab in Reno, where the rabies diagnosis was confirmed.
Preventative treatment, which is effective, has been recommended for both parties involved, but Todd said he would not provide any further information because the case is confidential.
Patients are given a single dose of immune globulin to provide protection before the vaccine stimulates the body to build its own immunity, together with a series of vaccines for rabies on the first, third, seventh, 14th, and 28th days after exposure.
Adverse reactions to the vaccine and immune globulin are not common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
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“The prophylactic treatment used to be very traumatic,” Todd said. “But it’s just a shot in the arm now.”
There is some evidence that humans are not as susceptible as other species to the disease but when acquired, this acute encephalitis is fatal, Todd said.
“This can be very worrisome,” he said. “People become overly concerned, when in fact, bats are very important ecologically. The bats here are insect-eating, so they help keep that population under control.”
The disease is rare in the United States. Only 57 people have died of rabies since 1958. Thirty-five of those cases were contracted in the home, Todd said.
He recommends keeping bats out of the home by screening any apertures they may enter, like chimneys or vents.
Human fatalities from the disease occur in people who fail to seek medical help, usually because they were unaware of their exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
n Contact reporter Susie Vasquez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 211.