A man is being treated for rabies after he was scratched by a bat that was infected with the rabies virus at Lake Crescent this month. This information was released to the public by the Olympic National Park officials on Monday. They said the man is 59 years old and he’s currently being treated with the anti-rabies shot.
This piece of information shouldn’t by any means scare people, but it should make them a bit more careful about handling wild animals. The man, whose identity is yet to be revealed to the media, was sitting on the shore of Lake Crescent, near a lodge and a bat flew out of a tree nearby and landed on the man. The incident took place on August 12.
Rainey McKenna, park spokesperson said that the man knocked the bat to the ground and while doing so, he was scratched by the bat’s teeth. The man was quick to take action and captured the animals using a towel and then alerted the park staff.
The bat was sent by the staff at the Olympic National Park to the Clallam County Health Department on August 13 where it was tested. When the tests results came back, on August 16, it was confirmed that the bat was infected with the rabies virus.
McKenna added that the man did not have rabies and that he was only receiving post-exposure prophylaxis treatment for rabies; a vaccine administered to people who have potentially been exposed to the virus to prevent infection.
Sarah Creachbaum, park Superintendent said in an official statement on Monday:
We’re very glad that this incident was reported to us and that the person involved is receiving treatment. Rabies exposure is extremely rare, but fatal if untreated. Anyone observing unusual or aggressive behavior among park wildlife, including bats or other mammals that approach or appear fearless of humans, should inform a park ranger as soon as possible.
Rainey McKenna added that there are two other known cases of bats infected with rabies in Olympic National Park: in 1975 a child was bitten in the Elwha Valley and in 2008 a woman was scratched by a bat in the Ozette Campground.
Rabies is a very dangerous disease, which left untreated is 100% fatal. As soon as you’ve been bitten by any animal, you should go to the doctor’s to get a rabies shot. Once the disease starts showing symptoms, there is no known cure or treatment and it is always fatal.
A visible bite mark from bats may be hard to spot, as they have tiny teeth, so if a bat hits you, you may want to visit your doctor’s office. Do not attempt to pet bats or catch them without protective gear.