Bat in my Face, Immunity in my Butt!

Ah, the woods. Relaxing, peaceful, quiet, and full of potentially rabid animals.

So, I’ve moved in with my friend, Howard, who owns a lovely house out in Lake Monticello. I was really enjoying the woodsy scenery, and I can handle the bugs, even learn to live with the wasps. Howard said he once had to shoo out a bat, but surely, that’s rare.

Last night, my third night in the house, and my first night sleeping alone since Tim had left, I woke up with something on my face. And heard wings fluttering. What. The. Hell.

I jumped up and got my robe, but refused to go back for my glasses. So, nearly blind, I stumbled into Howard’s room to get him to come see. Was it just one of the cats? A big bug? Was I hearing things? I doubted my initial bat hypothesis until we turned on the lights and retrieved my glasses. There it was, hanging out in the corner above my bed. Brian Jr., the Bat.

I grew up on Staten Island. I can deal with traffic, crowds, city buses, and pan handlers. I don’t deal with wildlife. I was convinced it was going to fly at my head and get stuck in my hair or something. Nevermind that I had already woken up with it ON MY HEAD. I hid.

The bat started flying in circles around the room, and I realized that it just wanted to avoid us, so I could come out of hiding. Howard opened the window, but it couldn’t find its way out. Trapping it seemed useless since it was perched on the log wall, so it could sneak out at the last minute. Of course, with the window open and the light on, the moths started to enter. So I was chasing down moths that got too close to the floor, while Howard chased the bat which ITSELF was chasing and eating moths that got too close to the ceiling! Thanks for visiting, enjoy the buffet.

Finally, Howard was able to trap Brian Jr. in a bucket and shoo it out the window. Freaked out, slightly amused, and ridiculously hyped up, I couldn’t sleep, so of course I tweeted about this. The vampire jokes started and such… and eventually, with the lights still on, I went to sleep.

This morning I drove into Charlottesville, hoping to get back to work and normal life after a weekend of moving. As I checked my Twitter and Facebook messages, I noticed that a few people were concerned about the possibility of rabies. But it’s not like I had gotten attacked. I would know if I’d been bitten right?

Wrong. CurtissJP pointed out to me that bats can bite you, and you may not even know it. They have small teeth, and a bite on the head could be easily hidden by hair, or be disguised as a simple bump. The Centers for Disease Control has lots of information on this, and I encourage you to check it out. Even if you’ve been asleep in a room with a bat, or if a child has been unattended with a bat, that bat should be captured and tested for rabies. Well, it was too late for that, so I made an appointment with student health.

Basically, it was decided that since it had been on me while I was asleep, I needed to be vaccinated. The first round of treatment is a series of injections of human rabies immune globulin in the gluteal area. Yeah, shots in the butt. Four of them in my case, since it depends on weight. Four syringes of cold, gooey material already full of antibodies that can help my body fight the rabies virus IF I was bitten and IF it was rabid.

Next is the actual vaccine, which has a dead version of the rabies virus and encourages the body to make its own antibodies. This goes in the arm in a series of four shots for a newbie who has already had possible exposure. I got the first today and have scheduled the remaining over the next two weeks. Then, I should be just fine! Even better, my health insurance covers all this, and numerous medical staff told me that was a good thing as it is pretty expensive.

Rabies is a nasty disease. You may not show symptoms for weeks or even months, but once you do, it’s pretty much over. After flu-like symptoms, your brain becomes affected as anxiety, confusion, and delirium set in. And then, you’re done. Very, very few humans survive once symptoms show, so it is important to get the vaccine as soon as there is exposure. In my case, I could have been bitten and never knew it.

So are vaccinations worth it? Heck yes. Delirium and death versus some soreness from a safe and tested vaccine? Needles, please. Let’s leave Andrew Wakefield in a room with a hoard of rabid bats and see how he feels about vaccines after that.

Despite my vitriol towards the father of the anti-vaccination, I have no ill will towards the bat or bats in general. They are pretty cute, interesting little animals, and they eat bugs. I’d just rather not contract a deadly disease from one. And my head isn’t a perch, thank you very much.

2 comments for “Bat in my Face, Immunity in my Butt!

  1. The Man Version
    June 2, 2010 at 08:10

    WHOA!

    Does this mean Maria has another Bat Hater for #batfriday?

    When I was getting a tour of the bats under the Capital Street Bridge in Austin, TX (world’s largest urban bat community, I’m told), I learned that rabid bats can’t fly. There are signs all over that said “do not approach grounded bats,” which I could never find on a t-shirt.

    If you can’t trust a nameless tour guide on a boat, who can you trust? Hmmm… yeah, probably best to get the vaccine… :)

    And if you thought the Noisy Vampire jokes were lame, just wait until the Rabid Astronomer ones start up.

  2. June 2, 2010 at 20:57

    You might be interested in checking out this guy’s chronicles of how he has dealt with bats.

    http://www.komar.org/faq/hunting_bats/

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