Ontario woman was probably bit by a ‘little brown bat” a.k.a. Myotis Lucifugus, which is not the smallest, but among the most common of bats in Canada.
Happy September everyone!
It sneaks up on me every year. What! Summer’s over? Fortunately fall is such a beautiful season, it makes the end of our too-short summers bearable. And when cooler weather returns, so does my energy for non-outside, non-gardening activities. I live across from an elementary school, and as the little
monsters darlings return to their studies, I’m inspired to up my productivity too.
Not that I haven’t been busy! As most of you know, I took on the extra fun of being editor of Canine Review’s print magazine in May. Silly me, I thought I could easily continue blogging while I learned the ropes of a new magazine, continued other freelance activities, raised my two Frenchies puppies who were so adorably cute that they were a constant and irresistible distraction, and nurtured my 20-some thirsty tomato plants. Something had to give; hence my hiatus from blogging. But I’m baaaack–with a serious message–rabies is back too!
Really, rabies never left. Unless you live in some no-rabies island zone like Australia, New Zealand or the British Isles, it’s still lurking out there, waiting to strike like another Batman sequel. We tend to pooh-pooh the risk, lumping it in with our chances of winning the big lottery or dating Johnny Depp now that he’s left (Vanessa) Paradis(e). Then something happens to remind us there’s still a good reason to give our puppies that first rabies vaccines (no sooner than 24 weeks though!) and one booster, as per Dr. Jean Dodds’ latest protocol.
For me, the latest rabies reminder hit close to home. In my hometown of Wallaceburg Ontario, to be precise! And to make the incident even more relevant to me, it happened to a relative–my cousin! I haven’t seen this cousin for about three decades, but still, that makes it personal! When my mother first mentioned Peggy’s bat attack to my sister who lives in Wallaceburg, she thought it was just a wild (batty?) tale. “If it’s true, it would be in the papers,” my sensible sister said.
Well, here’s the newspaper article to prove it (and you KNOW you can believe everything you read in the papers LOL!) From the London Free Press: A Wallaceburg woman is warning others after she was attacked by a rabid bat Peggy doesn’t want to become known as Wallaceburg’s Twilight Woman, so she didn’t list her last name (and no, it’s not Ricciotti).But she did want to get the message out that people should be aware of the potential hazard:
Although reported incidents of rabies are rare in Chatham-Kent, an inspector with the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit said he was aware of two additional bats that tested positive for rabies last week.
“There are a great many bats in the Wallaceburg area and residents should be on the lookout not only for themselves, but for their pets,” said Peggy. “Make sure your pets have their rabies shots.”
Peggy said the bat attack occurred in the early evening hours when she stepped out onto the balcony of her condominium.
“The bat bit me on the top of my foot,” she said. “It let go when I kicked my foot in the air.”
Rapid action probably saved Peggy’s life. She went immediately to the local emergency, where a doctor didn’t believe her story until nurses showed him the puncture marks, then she was given shots right away. As Wiki helpfully tells us:
For a human, rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Once the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is effectively untreatable and usually fatal within days
More facts on rabies from the World Health Organization:
- Rabies causes about 55,000 human deaths annually worldwide, mostly in Asia and Africa.
- Roughly 97% of human rabies cases result from dog bites.
- Bats are the source of most human rabies death in Canada and the U.S.
- Every year, more than 15 million people worldwide receive a post-exposure preventive regimen to avert the disease – this is estimated to prevent 327 000 rabies deaths annually.
- and one more for those who love to store bizarre trivia in their heads: Human-to-human transmission by bite is theoretically possible but has never been confirmed.
If it can happen to my cousin, standing on her condo’s balcony in Ontario, it could happen to your dog. So please, protect your pooches! There’s no need to give a rabies shot annually, but don’t skip that initial immunization step. Don’t over-vaccinate, don’t give rabies shots too early, or in combination with other vaccines, but here in North America, you still need to give it.
A rarely captured photographic moment–a little brown bat in flight in broad daylight! Photo: Ralph Eldridge
At the same time, (non-rabid) bats are not to be feared. Anything that eats mosquitoes is welcome around my house (up to 600 skeeters per hour)!
You can learn more about the little brown bat (average wingspan is 10 inches; unlike some bats, they don’t like to roost in clusters; they head to the southern U.S. states in the winter; they only have one pup, which learns to fly at three weeks etc!) here and more fun facts about bats in general here. (Did you know bats are NOT blind?)
Do you worry about rabies? Breeders: Do you vaccinate your puppies against rabies, or advise that they should receive a rabies shot? Is so, at what age? Owners: Do you give rabies shots to your dogs after their one-year booster? Leave a comment in the “Speak!” box below!