Bat that bit N.B. boy in his bedroom tests positive for rabies

CTVNews.ca’s Josh Dehaas, with a report from CTV News Atlantic’s Laura Brown
Published Monday, July 22, 2019 8:40PM EDT

A brown bat that bit a young New Brunswick boy last week has tested positive for rabies, a viral infection that is fatal if left untreated.

Tasha Doherty of Hartland, N.B. told CTV News Atlantic that she was alerted to the bat in her children’s bedroom by her frightened daughter. Her son Andrew, 4, then informed her it had bitten him.

“At that point, I honestly thought I was going to vomit,” she said.

Doherty’s husband killed the bat using a badminton racket and they took their son to the hospital to begin life-saving rabies injections.

The health department later confirmed the bat was positive for the virus.

Doherty says her son is doing fine, even referring to himself as “Batman.”

If left untreated, the disease almost always causes death within two weeks of the first symptoms showing up.

A 21-year-old Tae Kwan Do instructor from Parksville, B.C., died on July 13 from rabies contracted in May when a bat attacked him while in Tofino, B.C.

Before that, there hadn’t been a single death from rabies in Canada since 2012, and that case was acquired abroad, according to Health Canada.

Rabies is more commonly detected in animals, with nearly two-thirds of cases involving raccoons, skunks and foxes. Bats make up about a quarter of wildlife cases.

Early symptoms of rabies include fever, chills, tiredness, headache, loss of appetite, difficult sleeping, anxiety or irritability. That can progress to “furious rabies” which involves seizures, confusion, hyperactivity, hallucinations, fear of water, fear of fresh air or drafts, and strange behaviors such as biting other people. Other cases progress to “dumb rabies,” which involves weakness and paralysis.

Jim Goltz, the Government of New Brunswick’s top veterinarian, says that people can reduce the risk of rabies by keeping their distance from wild animals.

“Don’t try to feed animals or get too close to them,” he said. “It’s especially important to teach children about this.”

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