Rabid Bat on Today's To Do List

To Do List for May 20, 2013

1. Find 1st grader's bathing suit for swim week at school. Done.

2. Deliver possibly rabid bat in Tupperware container to Dept. of Agriculture lab. Done.

3. Coffee. Done.

4. Do laundry as procrastination before writing. 

5. Write.

6. Carpool and skating.

7. Edit and write some more.

8. Sleep the sleep of the batless.

Remember seven years ago when we had a bat in our house?

If you don't, here's the story.

It's highly entertaining, but a little long. Grab some coffee. Think about all those times you had bats in your house and you never even thought to get a rabies shot. Ah, those Halcyon days before Google!

On Friday night, another bat got into our house. I'm not sure how. Since our last bat-in-the-house episode, we keep the estate locked down. However, the winged stinkers can slip in through a 1/4" crack. We have a lot of those kind of cracks. Cracks which will be plugged up as much as possible thanks to $112 spent at Lowes on caulking and screening for the heat and cooling registers throughout our house.

Also, it looks like squirrels have chewed through our attic vents, so we have a call in for repairs.

If we do have bats in our attic belfry, we can't - and shouldn't - just kill them (bats are protected species) and we can't just block them out (because there may be bat babies in the attic, and peeeee-you dead bat babies.)

We're pretty sure this most recent bat stowed away in a sleeping bag that was hanging draped over the outside clothesline. When we gathered up the sleeping bag to bring it indoors, we gathered up the bat, as well. When nocturnal time happened, the bat awoke, wriggled out of the sleeping bag, and Voila! Freaked out bat flapping around our downstairs.

For crying out loud, do NOT pick up a bat with your bare hands.
Of course, my husband was sleeping on the sofa downstairs. And, of course, bats have been known to bite people who are asleep without waking the person. And of course, if a bat that bites has rabies, then the bitee is pretty much a goner if they don't get rabies shots before symptoms begin.

Here's the information on rabies deaths in the United States since 1995. Most of the deaths are from the bat rabies variant. And most victims have no known history of being bitten by a bat. Rabies in humans is still rare, pretty much because we now vaccinate the hell out of anyone who does report having contact with a bat or skunk or feral cat, or who is attacked by a rabid beaver.

Go ahead. Google "attack by rabid beaver." There are number of recent stories, all of them equally lively and horrifying. And these attacks aren't all in the hinterlands of backwoods Montana. No, try two attacks in one month in Fairfax County, VA outside of Washington, DC. How about another beaver that attacked on three different occasions in a park near Philadelphia, PA?

The most recent rabies death was a man who received a kidney transplant.The kidney he received was evidently from a donor who had unknowingly been exposed to rabies. CDC is tracking down others who received organs from the donor to start the organ recipients on rabies vaccinations.

Yeah, I know. Just what you wanted to read on a Monday morning.

I guess this bat is okay to handle.
Anyway, since I received booster shots for rabies in 2011 (don't ask), I was in charge of all bat handling once we did capture the bat - a Vaudeville act in three parts, let me tell you. First, you box the bat. Then the bat gets out of the box and starts flying around your family room, swooping at you and giggling while you scream like an actor in any number of Friday the 13th sequels. Then your husband tries to trap the bat with a net. Then your husband runs from the room, essentially locking you in the room with the bat. Then he returns with a broom, and with much swearing and crashing around, finally knocks the bat to the ground, stunning it.

This is where trapping the bat in Tupperware comes in. Because the state epidemiologist told you to trap the bat and either freeze it or suffocate it.

By the way, at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the epidemiologist-on-call will answer the phone on Saturday morning at 7:00 AM. So, if you're wondering whether you're getting bang for tax bucks as far as Pennsylvania state epidemiologists go, I can attest that yes, yes you are.

Also, as freaky as bats are and as deadly as rabies is, epidemiologists and Department of Agriculture lab technicians are relatively ho-hum about your level of hysteria. They deal with rabies pretty frequently and they're here to tell the tale.

And fair warning, epidemiologists and lab technicians have a dark sense of humor. When I told the epidemiologist-on-call about our first bat escapade, he laughed so hard I think he dropped his phone. While talking to the lab technician about my contact history with potentially rabid animals, she said, "Well, the next time this happens and you need to deliver a bat to us...."

Don't get me wrong: if there's a rabid animal in your house, the funny scientists will contact the Department of Health pronto, and you'll start the series of rabies shots ASAP. And no, the shots aren't in your stomach. You might get one big shot in your booty, but the rest will be in your arm.

Hey, look at the bright side. The next time a bat gets in your house - as they seem to do in our house with head-scratching frequency - you'll think, "Whatever. Potentially rabid bat."

Of course, you'll think it while you're running around screaming and waving a broom.

Read more Josette!
MamaPop.com: My Little Pony’s Sexy ‘Equestria Girls’ Spinoff Isn’t For Your Daughter
PennLive.com: In youth sports, a good coach can make all the difference

Photos: source, source, source, source


Onomatopoet said...

A bat flew into the house when I was a teenager. We trapped it under a colander and ooh'ed ahh'ed at it for a while. Then we let it go. Whereupon my sister calmly announced that she'd been bitten. I'm afraid there was extensive teasing about the shots she had to endure. Someone (probably not me) coined the term "bat-bit-butt-shot." She's still bitter about that.

josetteplank.com said...

OMG! At least she told you she was bitten!

And bat-bit-butt-shot! I LOVE IT! You take being a sibling to levels of perfection never before seen, lol!

Mary @ Fit and Fed said...

BTDT, one time with a cat who brought a still-getting-away-and-flying-bat into the house. Fun when both cat and I were trying to capture it. This was before the newer, stricter advice about rabies series after bat exposure so unlike you, I never got the shots. There have been some rabies cases in WA state where I live due to bats in the house.

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