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Ignorance about bats and rabies
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Ignorance about bats and rabies

This is going to sound probably laughably stupid, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I grew up in the country here in Oregon, and not once did anyone give any warning about bats and rabies. So naturally, this evening when my cat brought a bat into the house (he has a cat door going into the fenced-in garden), I didn't think anything of it. My cat had had either bitten or clawed into the bat, or it injured itself IF it got caught in the garden fence (our theory on how the cat caught it since it few away), so it was bleeding a little bit - very little, not dripping, but left a couple small streaks on the floor. Since it was wounded, I had no trouble trapping it under a bowl, sliding something beneath it, and tossed it out. It's what my family always did when growing up. Then I cleaned up the blood streaks with a disinfecting wipe, and hit additional areas with a rag and carpet cleaner + water in a bowl where the bat made contact on the floor when my cat was chasing it....not sure if there was any bat saliva on the floor. I did this with bare hands. I washed my hands twice, and showered afterwards. An hour later I had some chips and dip with my bare hands, licking a bit of stray dip that got under my fingernail (I know, gross). And then I decided to look up information on bats, finding that I should have kept it for testing, should have been more cautious in my cleanup, and various other things that make a person have a panic attack the way reading about anything health-related on the internet does.

Neither my son or I were bitten. I never touched my eyes while it was in the house. My son carried our cat from the living room to a bedroom so he'd stop being a pest while I was trying to remove it, never touching the cats paws that he can remember. For me, it was the cleanup, and licking hummus from my fingernail (I feel like a slob now). Should I have any reason at all to be concerned and should follow it up, or is the internet just full of alarmist information?
8 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Well, I am more afraid of bats than you are! LOL. But, firstly has your cat been vaccinated for rabies and it is up to date. If so then if the cat bites you you are okay there. As for the mess well, you won't get rabies from the blood you get it from saliva. The question is did you get any saliva in a cut on you any where. That is the main thing.Is there is cut under the finger nails either or even a hang nail where it is open to the air. If any saliva got in there then you are at risk. The next thing is dried saliva usually kills off the rabies but not wet saliva.
mkh9
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for the reply! I just scrutinized my fingers like a crazy person, and found absolute no open areas of any kind. No idea if there was any saliva, since some of the areas I cleaned up were the carpet (just to be safe) but no way to see if there was saliva there. And just remembered, when I dumped the dirty water into the sink, there was some splashback onto my shirt, and there's an opening from an ingrown hair under my belly button (geez, more embarrassing stuff), but I can't recall if the splashback hit that portion of my shirt or not. That's probably not even an issue, right?
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Avatar_f_tn
Also, since your son carried the cat.What did the cat have on it? And did your son have any open scratches or other sores etc. on his hands/arms that could have gotten saliva from the bat on him.

Even though the risk is very small, you may want to bring this up with a doctor today. Just to make sure. I normally don't say so. But check yourself thoroughly (both of you) and discuss it with your doctor.  If you have to get the vaccine it has to be within the first day or two. So see the doctor promptly to decide.
mkh9
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Avatar_f_tn
Yikes! Well, no idea what the cat had on it. From the encounter in the house, he only had the bat in his mouth, and was batting it with his paws. I never saw contact on any other part of his body. My son wrapped his arms around the cats torso, with his legs dangling over. My son has a little bit of eczema and scratches in the crooks of his arms. Now I'm worried.... :(
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Avatar_f_tn
I looked at my son's arms, and there's only rough scabby area on the crook of his arm. I kind of remember it from last night when I was putting some cream on his arms, and I think it was scabbed over even then. And also by how he described the way he carried the cat, there wasn't contact with his paws or mouth with that area at all. So maybe nothing to worry about?
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm more worried about saliva from the bat getting on the cat and that getting into the wounds, especially the scratches. I can't say this is a zero risk. I would see a doctor. Sorry. I hope they say it is no risk but I can't do that.
mkh9
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Avatar_f_tn
Would it help that 5-10 minutes after carrying the cat, he took a long shower? He was grossed out by the whole situation. His scratches aren't open, and during the whole bat adventure, the bat didn't touch anything but my cat's mouth and front paws which didn't make contact with my son's arm.

I spoke with a friend that worked in animal control for a number of years, and her  only concern was the cat, which I just took to the vet. I haven't spoken to a doctor yet. I'm not sure where to ask since we don't yet have a primary care provider (just found a new one after moving back to this area, but haven't filled out the new patient paperwork yet) and our insurance doesn't come in effect until the first of Feb.
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Avatar_f_tn


This if from the CDC:
People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

Scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes contaminated with saliva or other potentially infectious material (such as brain tissue) from a rabid animal constitute non-bite exposures. Occasionally reports of non-bite exposure are such that post exposure prophylaxis is given.

So it is rare but not impossible to get rabies from the saliva if it got into any open area as said above. The Oregon public health department says not to pick up dead bats. They advice you to call them if you have been potentially exposed. The Oregon Health Authority Public Health Acute and Preventable Disease Section is (971) 673-1111. Their hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. I don't know if they would answer any questions on  the weekend. But you can try.  Do they have any public health or free clinics in your area? It is good that the scratches were closed. I just worry because there was a  lot that went on here.  So that is my take on it.
mkh9
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