“A bat flew into my car and bit my hand.”

She was on her way across town to tell me about a road trip she’d taken with friends. She texted me while she was driving — something that I wish she’d never do, but this seemed extraordinary circumstances.

“A bat flew into my car and bit my hand.”

I called my friends at Wildwoods. Bats are a species of special interest to Wildwoods, and in the years I volunteered with them, I learned a lot. It was rare to think of a bat out in March in Duluth, but then, fifty degree days are rare in Duluth in March, too.

One of the most significant things I learned was about rabies, though — I was not allowed anywhere near bats until I received the rabies pre-exposure vaccine. Bats are a rabies vector species in Minnesota. So I knew this bat nibble was not a good thing.

Of course, my friends at Wildwoods asked the first question — “Do you still have the bat?” No, I replied. Unsurprisingly, she shooed it out of her car, rather than hang out with it in the car. But absent the bat, I knew, we would be in for a long night in urgent care.

One of the tricks of hanging in the ER (where Urgent Care patients get shifted when you wait too long in Urgent Care) is the ability to allow someone to be frustrated and try to make them laugh. I hope I did both. And I got a story to tell, one that includes someone squeezing my hands so hard, three of their fingernails left welts in my hand. It would have been four welts, except the fourth finger was being used to flip me off every time I made her laugh.

Anyway. Bats are out in the world, people, and they seem to enjoy biting people driving down 4th. If you get visited by a bat, invite them in for tea so you can avoid the long night — the bat can be tested for rabies, so you can skip the shots.

But myself, I traded three hours in an ER for a story. I’d do it again. But I wasn’t the one bitten.



about 9 years ago

Yikes! Hopefully your friend is ok, other than discomfort from the vaccines. Rabies is not something to mess with!


about 9 years ago

I had to go through rabies prophylaxis about a year and a half ago. Only 3 hours? You got lucky — my first visit was 8 hours.

Rabies vaccination isn't as awful as it (apparently) used to be, but the human immunoglobulin injections suck because the number of shots is given according to your body weight, and they have to be injected in the butt cheek.

Bat bites can go unnoticed if they happen while you're asleep, so anyone sleeping in a room where a bat is found should get immunized. Rabies is not a fun way to die and by the time you realize you have it, you're screwed. The upside is that once you're vaccinated, you're protected for up to 20 years.


about 9 years ago

It takes something like 24 hours to test an animal for rabies and your best chance of survival is to get treated within six hours. I actually left the ER without the shots after being treated for wounds from an animal attack. When I called from the road to see if I should come back it was the only time I heard the Nurseline person lose their cool and tell me to get back NOW.

The shots must vary by person, they had to distribute them between muscles to avoid damage and I had six in my arms and legs the first time, then came back for the series of 10 or 11 spread out over I forget how long. Recovering is like having a super bad flu, but better than dying.


about 9 years ago

Also, this is the second post you did on rabies that said test first, treat later. Not only is that wrong but it's advice that could kill someone.

[email protected]

about 9 years ago

No sentence above indicated that testing is a replacement for treatment, and certainly, nothing on this blog constitutes medical advice.

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