PSA: Bats

So, I realize it’s the fouth of July and I had totally intended to sit down and provide you with some pretty patriotic pictures of our party prep.  But, when I clicked on Facebook a few minutes ago and read that a friend of mine found a bat in her bathroom this morning I realized this just can’t wait any longer.  Honestly, I was still trying to wrap my head around everything that has gone down the last two days.  Here goes…

I am an extremely light sleeper and woke up around 4AM on Tuesday morning to a slight sound in our bedroom.  I sat up and, while I couldn’t see anything, I could hear something moving around the room.  I woke Honey up and, as my eyes started to adjust to the light, I could tell there was something actually flying in the room.  We assumed it was a bird and Honey got up to turn on the light.  When he did, he screamed bat and ran out of the bedroom and shut the door.  Um… yes… you read that right…. shut the door with his lovely wife INSIDE of the room with the bat.  :-)  The thing was flying around like crazy, swooping and diving all over the room.  I laid down under the covers and just screamed.  Honey instructed me to crawl towards the door with the pillow over my head.  I did and he let me out.  He left me guarding the door while he went down to the garage for “supplies” (ie. his fly fishing net and tennis racket)  He came back up and pretty easily caught the thing in the net.  I happened to have my super zoom lens on my camera and was able to snap this picture (from way across the room…I am not this brave.)

July 2014 019

Honey, animal lover to a fault, released the bat outside and we got on with our day.  Thinking we may never sleep again.

July 2014 017

A few hours later, I posted a pic of the bat on instagram.  My big sis H immediately texts me that I need to call my doctors and tell them.  Then her big sis sends me a note that I need to take this seriously.  I thought it was overreaction, but later came to find out that they both had different friends that had dealt with this and neither knew the other had contacted me.  This is going to sound extreme, but they might have saved our lives.

A few hours later, we are all four admitted to the ER.  Different ERs, by the way, because nothing can be simple.  The kids at Children’s and us at Northside.  We were starting Day 0 of treatment for rabies exposure – each receiving between 3 and 5 shots in our arms, thighs and bottoms.  We will each be re-admitted to the ER three more times over the next two weeks to continue the treatment.  The cost is staggering – $25,000-35,000 per person.  The alternative is certain death if any of us were infected by the bat.  It’s a real live nightmare.

Here’s a list of things I never knew about bats.  Nobody, other than my big sis and her big sis that I’ve told this story to knew.  I feel compelled to share…

  • Most bats don’t have rabies and human rabies contraction is very rare.  However………….if you do contract rabies and aren’t treated you WILL DIE.  Bats are the most prevalent way that humans get rabies.  There is NO cure.  Oh, and just so y’all aren’t terrified to come in contact with the W family – human to human rabies contraction has only occurred via a transplanted cornea.  (???)
  • Symptoms do not show for days, weeks or even up to a year.  Hence, why those that die of rabies didn’t seek treatment.  In fact, I read a 20 year study that said that in 98% of all rabies deaths in that time period only ONE person knew they had been scratched.  All of the rest were able to recall as they were on the death beds and being interviewed that a bat had in fact been in their home or workplace.
  • Most people that die of rabies have no idea that they were bitten or scratched by a bat.  It only takes a surface scratch a millimeter long to get rabies.  Apparently, bats have extremely sharp teeth and it is common to not even know you were bitten.
  • Poison Control and the CDC recommend immediate ER treatment if you are exposed to a bat.  Exposure includes: waking up to find a bat in the house, finding a bat in a room with a child, disabled person or someone without full mental capacity.
  • I am no expert, but here is my advise: If you ever do come in contact with a bat, SAVE THE BAT.  It can be tested for rabies and then YOU and your family will not have to be treated if clean.  Immediately call Poison Control, Animal Control and your doctors to relay the exact details of the your encounter for advise on treatment.  Do not wait – treatment needs to start on day 0.

So, while I am certain that I did not get bitten or scratched by the bat, Honey is a heavy sleeper and very well could have had it sitting on his head and not woken up.  He also handled the bat.  I argued that I would have known if the bat was in my kids room, but my pediatrician put it bluntly – “Can you say with 100% certainty it didn’t go in their room? Was the door open? (yes) How would you feel if they DIE OF RABIES?”  And, in spite of my certainty, Honey insisted that I be treated too.  It was a tearful night in the ER.

I have peace of mind now that we won’t die of rabies, even though I am still a bit skeptical about the whole thing.  The cost is staggering and we have no answers yet as to what our insurance will cover.  We still have 9 more ER visits ahead between us.  Tons more injections and lots of time and money.  But we don’t have the bat and every single professional we talked with said this was the right course of action.   On a much lighter note, my sweet friend M delivered this bottle of Batman Brand Elixir to my back porch the next morning. July 2014 020 I love a friend that will carefully print and cut out images of your bat and write a pun-laden poem to cover a bottle of Sangria.  She’s the kind of friend that will cry right along with you, but takes the first opportunity to make you laugh too :-)   July 2014 021   July 2014 022

So, spread the word.  Bats play an important role in our ecosystem, but humans should take all precautions to steer clear of them.

PS. The day before my car overheated and is in the shop.  When it rains it pours.

46 thoughts on “PSA: Bats

  1. Thank you for sharing this, I just sent it to both of my sisters. HOW SCARY! I am glad you are all safe. I do have to say, Z would have done the same and left me in the bedroom under the covers as he escaped. Again, glad you all are safe, I hope you can find time to enjoy your 4th. Cheers!

  2. Oh no!! How scary! When i saw your Instagram post of yor bag, I was watching a tv show later that night where they had bats in their attic. The next day someone else posted on FB about a bat! Now I'm scared we will see a bat soon! Thanks for sharing this post! I hope you enjoy your 4th of July and maybe tomorrow we will see your lovely patriotic pics! By the way, I made your granola bars with the protein Cheerios and my hubby LOVED them! :)

  3. I had to laugh at the first part of the post. We lived in an old house for 5 years and had several bats but only downstairs, never upstairs. And we never did any treatment. When I was laughing over the first part of your post and reading it to my hubby, he immediately said that treatment is recommended just in case you were scratched as 80% of bats have rabies. Then I read the latter part of the post and realized he was correct. I never knew that treatment was recommended if a bat was in the house. I have now learned something. Thank you for your post.

  4. Oh my lands! I had no idea about all of this — thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. I'm glad you are all ok. What an ordeal!

  5. Oh my WORD – how terrifying! Bless your hearts! Like you, I would've just assumed we were fine, that I would've known if I'd/we'd been bitten. I am glad y'all are getting treatment – we'll be thinking of you – and thank you for sharing this information! xo

  6. Praying for you that insurance does the right thing and covers 100% of the expense! but so sorry to hear about your scary experience! Hope you have a happy 4th of July in spite of this!

  7. Amanda, I am an old nurse and did not realize that just being in the room with a bat could spell trouble. Thanks for passing on this info. And if we ever come across one, we will catch it and take it for testing!!

  8. I am SOOO sorry y'all have to go through this! I live in the country and we watch the bats fly around our back yard every evening. It's probably just a matter of time before one decides to explore our house. Thank you so so much for sharing your ordeal. You've probably saved several people from the same situation. Will continue prayers for you and your sweet family. Hang in there!

  9. I live in California. I also see, (not watch) bats fly around at night. I run in the house. They crepe me out!!!!! I was wondering how did the bat get in your house?

    Sorry to hear about all of this. Thanks for posting this info. Hope you and your family get to enjoy the fourth.

  10. I just have to know how you disposed of the bat. Couldn't you have gone back and brought it in for testing or did you release it? That's so horrible! You all must have been so upset! Did they mention (dare I ask) any contamination it may have cause in your home or how do they think it got in? Thanks for the information and thank goodness your foot was healed!

    1. We still don't know how it got in but are having the house checked for openings. Honey just dumped it on the driveway and it flew away. Out friend that had one this morning was able to retrieve it and sent it for testing already. We just didn't know :-(

  11. I am so sorry your family has to endure this but you are doing the right thing. I live in Texas and my neighbor had a big 16th birthday party for her son. Doors were open with in and out guests. Sometime that night he was bitten and woke up to see the bat. Told his mom about the bat but not about the bite. To make a long story short, he died three weeks later. So you did the best thing for your family

  12. Oh my goodness! This is so scary. I so appreciate that you shared what to do if there is a bat in the house. I had no idea.

    Glad to know that things can only get better at your house now.

  13. Amanda, what a terrifying story. So sorry you had to go thru all that! We've had bats in our attic and when I was a kid, one flew past me in my bedroom. I had no idea a tiny scratch could transit rabies. Bats are always flying around when my kids are playing outside at dusk. So scary! Now that you are getting these prevention shots,will you be protected for life? Take care, Shelley

  14. How terrifying! They are around here after dusk, but we've never had one in the house. A friend of ours had quite a few get in his attic. And, one got caught between a window and screen in my parents house when I was younger. I still remember it's teeth! EWWWW!!! And, my sweet 95 year old MIL had them in her house last year. With the help of family they got them out. Who knew you should seek treatment immediately. Hubby did know to try and kill it so it could be tested however. I'd rather not have to deal with it period. One thing I will say…check into the cost of the treatments. The ER will charge twice as much as your physicians office. I would call your insurance company and ask what the charges normally are and what they will cover. Hope you all are having a happy 4th!!!

  15. Lauren – Unfortunately, the ER is the only place in the Atlanta area that you can be treated and all 4 of the treatments have to be done there. It is too expensive for regular physicians to carry. While we were trying to figure out insurance coverage, my pedi called and asked "WHY AREN'T THOSE KIDS AT THE ER??" I told him we were trying to figure out insurance and he said there was no time. Get them to the ER. UGH!

  16. Wow! So sorry to hear about your ordeal. Thanks for sharing this important information with us.

    One question, however. Why do you have to keep going to the ER for the treatments? I would think it would be less expensive if you all could get the injections at your own doctors' offices. I know you don't have control over all of this, but I was just wondering…

    Hang in there!!!

  17. I'm am so sorry. What a terrible thing to have to go through. I had no idea. There are lots of bats outside in the summer evenings in Orlando. Thank you for sharing this vital information. I'm definitely going to pass it around to everyone we know.

  18. Mary – believe me when I say we asked, searched and hunted for an alternative to the ER. That's not a place I relish being – especially FOUR times in 2 weeks in 2 different hospitals. Unfortunately the ER is the only place that carries the vaccine and immunoglobulin. If this is the case in a city as large as Atlanta, I would guess it's pretty common.

  19. oh my, thanks for the info, didn't know that!!!! My first thought is how did it get in???? I have heard bats are territorial and "mark" their territory…..meaning they will come back!!!! Yikes, find out how they get in. I HATE BATS !!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Good to know, but that is AWFUL! I really hope they only charge for the shots NOT the ER visit each time. I would think a city our size would have an alternative. Makes me concerned for those in smaller towns for sure.

  21. This is so bizarre. We've had a few bats make a home in the moldings on the exterior of our home this year. Last night my husband drove of eight, yes eight from above the molding on our front door! I'm praying for you but also your littles. I'm sure they hate getting shots like mine.

  22. I am so relieved that you had people in the know to instruct you to go the ER. We got the same advice 2 years ago and went through the exact thing – 2 adults, 3 kids and my poor niece who was staying with us at the time. We had no way of knowing where the bat had been and had no other choice but to start treatment. Their teeth are razor sharp and you don't always know when you have been bitten. Lots of ice cream and lots of shots over the next few weeks. You all are troopers and definitely doing the right thing.

  23. This is scary. I had no idea how dangerous bat exposure could be. Fortunately, your friends knew the potential danger. I'm really surprised this isn't taught in science class.
    Thank you for the PSA.

  24. Holy crap bat man….look at those teeth!!!! And those little fingers…one hand grabbing onto the net and the other flat…and those ears-cute! But those teeth creep me out!

  25. Holy cow! That's nuts! I

    Seems like they should test the bat for rabies to see if exposure is a possibility.

    Certainly worth all the hassle and expense. Pretty awesome to have the vaccine available.

    1. If we had known to keep it – yes! My friend that this happened to yesterday went and retrieved hers (not alive) and animal control came to get it for testing. We just didn't know :-(

  26. When I was a kid, I was bitten by a stray dog in Manila. I had the series of 12 shots in my abdomen, which was the old school way of doing rabies shots. They cut the dog's head off and had him tested, but his negative result only came after I had gotten most of the (painful) shots. Good news is that I have antibodies like no one's business in my body. Bad news is, well, rabies shots, as you know…. I will say that the price tag is an absolute crime, even if insurance pays.

  27. You probably will have saved at least five others (and then so on and so on. Thanks Vidal Sassoon for that line.) by just posting this. And while I know everyone means well asking about insurance and such all I can say is who cares. ER cost and visits are a pain and a trip would be more fun to spend money on. But, peace of mind and keeping children and parents healthy are way more important. I think insurance may pay for more than you think. I hope. When I read this to my Hubby he laughed out loud over the Honey. He probably would have done the same! Hang in there!

  28. You are not alone- we also had a bat in our bedroom – our family of 4 had to have the rabies shots – the costs was covered by our health department – in NY – the health department tracks & monitors all rabies cases & covers the costs of the shots.

    My husband killed the bat and the health deprment was unable to properly test it (it was too damaged) and so we too needed the shots.

    We'll never forget this incident and neither will you and your family. Good luck.

  29. Our Sons school in SC was closed down for a few days b/c of a BAT INFESTATION !!! They were bats all over the music room. Finally they found out how they were coming in and fixed the issue. Bats can come in anywhere just like a mouse can or thats what I've been told..

  30. Oh my heavens, I cannot believe you all have had to go through all of this. But thank heavens your sister told you! Do you have to have your home checked out to see how it came in, or do you know? We had a "lock out" done when we moved into our home last summer because of pesky squirrels in the attic! Ugh, rodents!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Oh my scariness! I had no idea that bats were that dangerous. My 6 year old son LOVES your bat photos btw. He keeps pouring over every little detail of the pics.

  32. Oh my gosh Amanda, you poor thing! That is awful! Thank you for sharing about the risk of bats, we have them all around our house but never in (YET). I'm glad to know how serious it is to be exposed.

    Wishing you and your family well and hopefully your insurance will pick up that huge bill!!!! So sorry to hear of all this!

  33. Holy Moly! I pray the insurance helps defray some of those costs…but I'm sure no amount of money could keep you from getting treatment! Hope everyone does well with the shots. Bless you heart!!!

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