possible exposure to rabies

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Doc, May 13, 2005.

  1. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I THINK I had a bat in my bedroom last night which my cats tried to catch. There was a huge commotion and I heard an "eeek, eeek", and jumped out of bed. Saw the cats trying to catch something on the window screen, so I closed the window, thinking it was a vole or something they had found in the house. Only later did I think, "that looked like a bat, the way it moved, not a vole".

    Anyway, I called the Animal Control Officer who came out and took a report. Have to get the cats boosters, but in talking with the public health nurse, she urged me to go ahead and get the post-exposure rabies shots. Even though I'm 98% sure I did not touch my cats, I was in such a sleep state that I really don't know if I did or not (it would have been automatic).

    The public health nurse said it was not all that uncommon in our county, and that the side effects from the shots were minimal (it is a huge hassle because I have to go to the Emergency Room to get this done, and it is five shots altogether, I think).

    Question for the forum: has anyone been through this series of shots? Would like to know your experience.
     
  2. Susan n' Emily in TN

    Susan n' Emily in TN Well-Known Member

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    Doc, If there is any chance you still have the bat you could send it off for testing. I have gone thru the pre exposure vaccines, (I am a vet tech) that wasn't bad, I just had to stay out of the sun for awhile. Susan
     

  3. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't consider touching your cat to be any risk at all - bats don't slobber large amounts of spit. It's a bite from the bat that would be a concern. If the bat had access to your bedroom it could have bitten you without your knowing it.

    I had the post exposure series. The first treatment is the vaccine, AND a dose of immunoglobulin that is calibrated according to your weight, and can be a fairly large volume if you are tall. Then you get repeated vaccines. By the end of the series I was beginning to have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
     
  4. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    MaryDVM, I agree with you. I am pretty positive that the bat didn't do anything to anyone, but there is that one percent of uncertainty. I also had the pre-exposure rabies vaccine when I did research with rhesus monkeys, but that was in the early 1980s. I will tell the Docs about that, however, to see if they will test for a titer. I was told that I might not have to have the entire series if I had the pre-exposure vaccine, but that doesn't sound right in your experience.

    What kind of allergic reaction did you have? And how was the immunoglobulin?
     
  5. Mary in MO

    Mary in MO Well-Known Member

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    Funny you should mention this. I got a release from our county health department on rabies this week. One of the very interesting facts was that if you are in a room with a bat and were sleeping or it flew around you really need the series of shots. Apparently up to 75% of rabies transmission cases there was no identifiable bite or scratch (scratches are the most common transmission method for rabies from bats).

    Everyone reacts differently to the shots but contracting rabies is a guaranteed bad picnic that ends in a lousy death. Don't sweat the series, you'll do ok. Allergic reactions can be mediated with medication somewhat. The severity of the reaction would dictate the course of action of the medication.

    Make sure there are no more in the house and that the entry point(s) are sealed. Also, ED's are usually quiet early in the morning. Our city does its shots at the health department since it's monitored by them. We just had our first rabid bat of the season here.
    Mary
     
  6. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Your choices are the in convenience of five trips to the ER, maybe some discomfort or DEATH.

    I'd get the shots. Not worth the risk.

    Jena
     
  7. babetteq

    babetteq Well-Known Member

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    Contact your local centre for disease control. they will have the protocols that your public health nurse may not. In all fairness, the nurse is not a disease control specialist. The cdc is. In order to get rabies touching your cat is not enough. There has to be blood/saliva exposure. Sounds like a bit of fear-mongering to me.

    my 2c (1.87cents usd)
    babs
     
  8. babetteq

    babetteq Well-Known Member

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    I just read what Mary in MO wrote. If there is new information out there that may change the equation some...still the best place to get the info is from the Centre for Disease Control.

    They set the standard for the rest of the country and health departments.

    my ammended 2c

    babs
     
  9. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    Most of the human rabies vaccination done in the early 80's was the old duck embryo grown vaccine - it produced a great titer against duck protein, but less of a titer for rabies. I had it, but was still advised to get the full series of the newer human diploid vaccine after possible exposure. The local health folks said absolutely not to wait for a titer. You have to start the series within 2 weeks of exposure. My allergic reaction was itchy palms and feet, easily controlled with Benadryl, but will have to see what happens if I need a booster in the future.
     
  10. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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    If you go to a webpage done by experts on bats you will find (as I recall) there is not a SINGLE documented case of a bat in North America ever having transfered rabies to a human.
     
  11. ThreeCreeks

    ThreeCreeks Member

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    I can't believe there is even a discussion about this. Assuming that you feel there is some chance that you have been exposed (which the fact that you posted seems to indicate that there is), then the cost-benefit analysis seems pretty simple to me:

    Possible downside if you get the shots (whether or not you have been exposed)- Monetary cost and possible discomfort.

    Certain if you have been exposed and don't get the shots-
    You die.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=184710

    http://www.rense.com/general58/bat.htm -

    About a teenager in Wisconsin who caught rabies from a bat.
     
  12. insocal

    insocal Well-Known Member

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    caballoviejo, you are incorrect. Bats rabies is the strain typically found in human rabies victims. Just ASK the girl in WI who is the first case in history to actually have survived rabies without having received the postexposure prophylaxis (rabies is still for all intents and purposes 100% fatal and humans would do well to remember that).

    Erroneous postings like this are not merely harmful, they can prove fatal for the poor sucker who actually believes this nonsense.

    Current remommendations are if you even suspect you have had contact with a bat that then disappears and cannot be tested for rabies, you must consider yourself exposed to rabies. Treatment is no longer the 3-week horror it used to be. Granted, the first day is no walk in the park, but the rest of it is inconsequential. The injection on the first day is a large amount of molasseslike stuff (immunoglobulin)that hurts like a SOB when it goes in. The actual rabies vaccines given are teensy shots, usually into the skin, and they don't hurt at all. Adverse reactions are uncommon, and given that the alternative is a very ugly death, side effects are best ignored in my humble, experienced opinion. The new rabies shots for people are nothing whatsover like the old 25-year out-of-date duck embryo vaccine.

    I know what I am talking about. I am a veterinarian with 23 years in practice. I have been exposed to and treated for rabies and am thankful that I lived to tell about it. This disease is serious business. Any bat that loses its sense of navigation and gets into a house should be assumed to be a lethal threat to you and your animals and YOUR CHILDREN. This sort of sneaky nighttime exposure (in bedroom while you sleep) is why CDC recommends that ALL dogs and ALL cats be kept vaccinated for rabies. It's a matter of public health. You don't know how much contact they had with the bat, so you must assume they have been exposed. The original poster should report this exposure to their local health department and their veterinarian, and follow their advice. Pronto.

    Oh and by the way, the cost of managing public health threats like this are generally handled by the county health department. When I was exposed (along with 21 other people), LA County picked up the entire tab. THAT'S WHY WE PAY TAXES. Good thing, huh?
     
  13. Doc

    Doc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks, everyone. This is what I needed to hear -- even the part about the molasses-like immunoglobulin being painful. And yes, the reason I posted is that I am 99% sure I wasn't exposed, but it is that one percent that is taking me down to the ER on Monday morning to start the series. I took my cats in this morning for their booster. If it is as painless for me as it was for them, I should do ok!! Oh, and here in central NC, we have had rabid bats acc: public health nurse and our animal control officer.
     
  14. insocal

    insocal Well-Known Member

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    Doc: IIRC, the vast majority of rabies in humans in the US is caused by the bat strain, and in the vast majority of cases they never figure out how the heck the person got exposed, or the exposure was not recognized as such at the time. Your caution could save your life. Once the rabies virus has migrated to your central nervous system and started to destroy it and you develop symptoms, IT'S TOO LATE TO SAVE YOU.
     
  15. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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    Well, every institution and entity has got an agena.

    Here's what I got form wildwn.com:

    Another characteristic similar to all mammals is the ability to contract the rabies virus. Rabies has always been known to occur in dogs and cats. Paintings on tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs depict mad dogs biting people. Only recently have bats been known to contract rabies, and the first case in the United States occurred in 1953. Since then, only 15 other incidences have occurred. To keep this in perspective, 10 people die annually from dog attacks and diseases transmitted by dogs and cats.

    It is also important to note there are two forms of rabies; the aggressive and dumb form. Bats typically exhibit the dumb form where they become lethargic, paralyzed, and can't fly, often falling from their roost and quietly dying. They seldom are aggressive such as the mad dog which unexpectantly turns on its Master and friends. Avoiding bat rabies is simple. If you see a bat on the ground, especially during the day, don't touch it. If it's in your house, use gloves to remove it. If it's flying in your house, it's probably healthy but confused, so simply open the window and let it fly out. If you're concerned about rabies, you need to be more cautious of your pet that hasn't had its annual rabies shot or that 'friendly' raccoon that visits your porch each night. END

    I got NO numbers data from the CDC but did note the CDS first confirmed racoon to human transmission/DEATH occured last year.

    In support of what you've state, on another web page I found 32 human rabies deaths over the last 20 years, 24 were attributed to bats - so 75% at a rate of 1.2 persons per
    per year.

    I suspect realistic figures are between 0 and 24, depending on how rabies strain identity was determined.

    As a child I was bit deeply on the finger by a chipmunk that had otherwise not been behaving normally. The chipmunk was actually CAUGHT later. Went to the hospital and was told of the "13" rabies shots in the stomach. They put up the chimpmunk in a "hotel" and said if it did ok for two weeks and the brain was not inflammed they would'nt give the shots. Chipmunk did fine until the weekend before the 2 weeks end when it up and died. But they concluded that that was because a window was left open and it froze to death. So I got passed over on the shots.
     
  16. insocal

    insocal Well-Known Member

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    caballoviejo: Your source is incorrect. The statement that only 15 cases of bat rabies have occurred in the US is false. Of the bat carcasses turned in to the Los Angeles Health Dept for rabies testing in the last few years, 10% have tested positive for rabies, for a total in the twenties or thirtyies IIRC. That is just out of the bats FOUND AND TESTED. Bat rabies is endemic in Los Angeles County and many other counties in the US. Bat rabies is not rare, it is extremely commonplace. Raccoon rabies in the Eastern US is not rare, it is extremely commonplace. Skunk rabies in many places is not rare. This disease is out there in the wildlife population. For any person to minimize the existence of rabies is irresponsible. Your source is not reliable.

    The reason so few PEOPLE die of rabies in the US is because our public health system has policies in place to detect the threat and prevent disease in exposed persons. Post-exposure prophylaxis (immunoglobulin and vaccination) is a life-saver. The best course of action is to avoid exposure in the first place, and your advice to not pick up bats is quite correct. But if a bat gets into your bedroom, you MUST consider yourself exposed and seek treatment. There are several cases of people dying because they ignored or underestimated bat contact.
     
  17. insocal

    insocal Well-Known Member

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    BTW: chipmunks are another of those rodents people worry about, but I don't think I have ever heard of one testing positive for rabies.
     
  18. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just a couple of shots, no big deal. My Avonex shots hurt more.