A Canadian news story piqued my interest today – apparently, a man living near Edmonton, Alberta was bitten by a bat during his sleep. Curiosity got the better of me as I tried to recreate the scenario in my head. First of all, “vampire bats” (the kind that feed on the blood of livestock) don’t live in Canada, so this little guy was probably a generic “brown bat.” Brown bats are shy creatures who live on insects primarily, so we know that this bat was in a pretty wacky frame of mind to boldly mistake a sleeping human for a beetle.
Stranger than the behavior of this culinarily confused little mammal, was the behavior of the sleeping victim. Apparently he was unconcerned by the bite and went back to sleep afterwards, never seeking medical attention. I don’t know about you, but if I woke up in the middle of the night with any wild animal sinking its teeth into my flesh, I’d probably not shrug and roll over.
Anyway, the sad news is that this man didn’t get his life-saving rabies shots. Rabies is a very serious condition with a 50% mortality rate! The rabies virus (transmitted through infected animal saliva) wreaks havoc on the brain and nerves. The CDC describes it:
Early symptoms of rabies in humans are nonspecific, consisting of fever, headache, and general malaise. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.
Isn’t it strange that “fear of water” is part of the rabies syndrome? I’d like to get an explanation of that one from a neurologist…
Anyway, human cases of rabies are quite rare (about 7000 cases/year in the US) and are usually caused by raccoon or skunk attacks. So if you come face to face with a raccoon or skunk “gone wild” my advice is to run away. But if you do get bitten, please go to the hospital immediately and get your rabies shots. You can prevent progression of the disease.
Now, if you’re curious to see if you’re in a rabies “hot zone” check out the CDC’s skunk and raccoon tracking maps (can you believe that someone’s job is to create these?)
And for a good spoof of dangerous animals – check out Dr. Rob’s recent warnings against the common goat. You can tell that he must enjoy Monty Python style humor.
Are you an animal lover? Know of some funny websites or links about animal antics? Do share!
This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.