Here at AnimalsBeingCute we always encourage people to do the right thing when it comes to our furry friends. However, now and then, what seems to be the right thing isn’t.
Take this couple from Switzerland, for example. Their hearts were in the right place when they tried to rescue a bat. But, considering it had rabies, it was undoubtedly a bad call.
When authorities realized that the bat was rabid, it took an international level manhunt to find the couple and attempt to save their lives.
A Swiss couple recently vacationed in Naples, Florida. They came across a bat that seemed to be in distress. The husband, who works in pest control, led the charge and decided that they should take the bat to a veterinarian to see if anything could be done to help it.
The couple didn’t leave their names when they dropped the bat off at the doctor’s, only the fact that they were here from Switzerland.
When the bat tested positive for rabies five days later, veterinarians knew they had to do something fast. What happened next was an international manhunt of epic proportions.
When authorities discovered that the bat was rabid, they knew the clock was ticking. Rabies is treatable, but only if doctors can give the vaccine well before symptoms set in.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) searched the area where the couple found the bat was for several days. They had no luck, so they started reaching out. They contacted the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health through a World Health Organization network.
The agency issued an international press release in an attempt to locate the couple. Luckily, they found them in time, before the symptoms appeared.
THEY DIDN’T KNOW
The couple likely didn’t know that bats were known for carrying rabies.
“A lot of visitors to the United States may not understand the risk associated with bats,” said Emily Pieracci, a veterinarian epidemiologist with the CDC.
Pieracci told BuzzFeed that only about one or two percent of bats carry the rabies virus. Those bats are responsible for the majority of rabies cases in the country, which happens once or twice a year.
The virus can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before the patient starts to exhibit symptoms. If the patient receives the vaccine before symptoms appear, it is highly effective. However, it is not effective once the disease has progressed too far, and is absolutely fatal.
Rabies symptoms are as follows: fever, aches, a weakness that progresses into insomnia, confusion, paralysis, hallucinations, and fear of water are all signs that the virus has taken hold.
WHAT TO DO
The Swiss couple survived the ordeal because authorities got to them in time. Do you know what to do if you think you may have been exposed?
Dr. Brett Peterson for Medscape works for the CDC’s Poxvirus and Rabies Branch. He said that there are several factors at play, including the area where the interaction occurred.
However, he urges that people should always use caution.
When in doubt, if you think you may have been exposed, even if the animal isn’t available for testing, you should get the vaccination. Even touching a rabid bat with bare hands can be enough to contact the virus through a small tear in the skin.
In the United States, with the advent of the rabies vaccine, contracting the virus isn’t as likely as it used to be. However, use extreme caution and play it safe. those shots could be the only things standing between you and a nasty death.
Do you have a wild story about rabies? Have you had to have the vaccine? Tell us all about it in the comments.