Posts tagged: rabid bat
When Nicholle Joyce learned she'd been exposed to a rabid bat at a Spirit Lake home in May and she was nine days into the 10-day window for a lifesaving vaccine for the fatal disease, she did what her doctor's office suggested - she went to the emergency room. The result: A $5,000 bill for her, and another matching one for her friend who was in the same bind. Joyce had insurance, but it had a $3,000 deductible, and is only paying about $830. Her friend had none; Medicaid covered the shots for the friend’s 15-month-old son, but not the single mom. “It’s absolutely impossible for everyone to get a due-on-receipt of $5,000 and just go with it,” said Joyce, a veterinary technician from Athol.
Health officials said they, too, were shocked by the high price of the rabies vaccine, which consists of five shots on four specific days over several weeks; so far this year, three bats have been found in North Idaho that tested positive for rabies. But it’s something that’s so rarely needed that few doctor’s offices would stock it.
“That sounds absolutely, egregiously horrible,” Bob Marsalli, CEO of the Montana Primary Care Association, which oversees community health clinics in that state, said of the cost, “unless it was a hospital administering the vaccine. Here’s what we know: The worst place to get primary care is in the hospital emergency room, and the charge schedule for hospitals is one of the reasons why health care has reached the place it is.”
Now, the Dirne Community Clinic in Coeur d’Alene, which hasn’t offered the rabies vaccine in the past, is looking into it because of Joyce’s case. “It certainly would be a lot less,” said Dirne CEO Mike Baker; his community health center charges patients on a sliding scale based on their income, and works with both insured and uninsured patients; you can read my full story here from Saturday’s Spokesman-Review.
The season’s first rabid bat has been reported in Idaho, after it flew into a northern Kootenai County home and the residents found it lying on their staircase. “It was still alive, and they just kind of used a towel to pick it up and put it outside,” said Cynthia Taggart, spokeswoman for the Panhandle Health District. “They thought it would fly away, but it didn’t, it died – and that’s not a good sign. They wisely sent it off to us for testing and it was rabid.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Everyone in the house is now being treated for rabies, Taggart said, as there’s no way to know whether anyone was bitten by the bat. “There’s no signs of bites,” she said, “But bats have such sharp teeth that they can bite and you don’t know.” Current rabies treatment involves a series of five shots administered over a couple of weeks; two of the shots are given on the first day of treatment, which must commence within 10 days of exposure. “No one’s ever developed rabies who started within that 10-day window, and these people did,” Taggart said.
Rabies is considered endemic in Idaho’s bat population, and rabid bats have been found statewide. Usually, they don’t turn up until July, but Taggart said, “This last week of hot weather was really out of the ordinary for us, so I guess a lot of bats woke up. They hibernate over the winter.”
State health officials are warning Idahoans to stay away from bats. “People should call their health care providers immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy administered to people after an animal bite is extremely effective in preventing rabies,” a viral illness that is fatal in humans and animals, said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “It is extremely important for people to avoid bats or other wild animals that appear sick or are acting aggressively or abnormally.”
Said Taggart, “It’s important to let people know that if they do have a bat in their house, that they’re considered exposed. … They don’t know that it hasn’t bitten anybody, so they should right away get a hold of us.”
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has these tips:
·Do not touch a bat with your bare hands.
·If you have had contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, seek medical advice immediately.
·If you come in contact with a bat, save it in a non-breakable container if it is alive, or sealed and double-bagged in clear plastic bags without touching it if it’s dead. Call your public health district to determine whether testing the bat for rabies is indicated. If it is determined that you or your pet may be at risk of exposure to rabies, testing of the bat is a free service.
·Always vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses — even indoor pets could be exposed to rabies if a bat gets into a home.
·Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.
·Parents should teach their children to avoid bats and to let an adult know if they find one.
A bat that bit a child playing near the Indian Creek Bridge in Caldwell yesterday has tested positive for rabies. Southwest District Health officials said today that the girl's family has been notified and treatment will begin today. Rabies can be fatal if left untreated; officials are warning people to steer clear of bats. You can read the health district's full announcement here.
A child who was swimming in a pond in Crouch earlier this week was exposed to a rabid bat that swooped down and scratched him. The boy’s father captured the bat, and Idaho Health & Welfare officials confirmed that it was the third rabid bat found in Idaho this year. The first was in Shoshone County in March, and the second in Blaine County in July. The youngster, who was visiting from Oregon and is under age 10, is undergoing medical treatment for rabies exposure.
“It’s unusual for a bat to be active during the daytime,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “This is one warning signal that the bat may be carrying rabies.” Last year, eight rabid bats were found in Idaho.