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The Bat Story

It must have been around 3 years ago: the animals are now due for their rabies booster.

So, TINS©, TDW-Mark II and I were lolling around in the living room, she was watching some program or other, I was reading. She nudged me, at one point, and directed me, “You ought to see what it is that has your fat cat running! You know that he never runs!”

She was referencing one of my two cats, that I had acquired as kittens, brothers, and had attached themselves to me. They would, of an evening, begin to direct me that it was time to go to bed, by sitting in the middle of the doorway to the bedroom, and yowling. If that failed to direct my attention where they wanted it, one or the other would sit on my lap, and head butt me, meowing plaintively. The one, Laurel, was, well, “calorically enhanced”, let us term it, and not the most active feline in the neighborhood. His brother, Hardy, well, he would direct me that it was time to play “fetch” wherein I would toss a yarn ball off a ways, he would retrieve it, dropping it at my feet, and then sit as if waiting for me to toss it again.

The night in question, once my Darling Wife had directed my attention from my book and towards my environment, I did, indeed, note the heavy galumphing footsteps of Laurel. She was right, he rarely ran for any reason. I got up, and found him and Hardy settled in, as if pointing, with their attention directed at a small brown furry thing huddled in a corner of our bedroom. Once it moved a bit, I saw the wings, and realized that we had a bat in our house.

I had been an ED nurse for decades at this point, and had the opportunity to administer RIG (Rabies Immune Globulin: an antibody rich solution, to arrest the ability of the rabies virus to infect you), as well as Rabavert (the vaccine, which allowed your own immune system to produce antibodies to prevent developing the disease. The protection provided by RIG is short term, only). I was familiar with the experiences of the patient receiving these medications. In most cases, an unprovoked attack by a dog “that was acting strangely” was the precipitating event. The rest were folks who had handled, been bit by, or had been asleep/intoxicated/helpless in the room with a bat.

Therefore, there was no way I was going to handle any bat for any reason. I left to retrieve my shop vac.

Upon my return, both the bat and my cats, now joined by TDW’s dogs, were collected in a different corner of the bedroom, with TDW providing over watch. I realized that KNOWING where the bat was, would considerably enhance our efforts at containing him, and so I retrieved my inspection camera. This is a camera on the end of a fiber optic stalk, such that you can twist it into a corner not readily visible, to see what is there. I had previously employed it to find, and avoid, wiring and pipes in the wall I was fixing to hammer a nail into. Now, it was my (sorry…) Bat Scope!

The animals appeared to be congregating around one end of our baseboard hot water heating radiator, so I peeked in there. With the scope. Yep, there he was! I handed the scope to TDW, and attempted to entrain him in the air the vacuum was sucking up, but no joy (for me…). I suggested that she poke him with the stalk, to see if he’d move, lose his grip on whatever he was clinging to, and wind up in the vacuum.

Well, once she did, he snarled.

THAT was unexpected!

She was ready to draw down on him, and send him to Bat Heaven on a 9 mm carriage, but I wondered if exchanging an intact (and possibly rabid) bat, for a haz mat scene of scattered bat bodily fluids, each droplet potentially rabid, was really any sort of improvement, at all.

She did not think so, either, after a moment’s reflection.

So, she poked the bat, again.

Of course, he snarled, again, but, this time, he was dislodged, and sucked into the vacuum.

Realizing that this was a good thing, I unplugged the vacuum, sealed the end of the hose with a baggie and duct tape, and secured our unwelcome guest out on the porch. In December. In The Un-Named Flyover State. Where it was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The next morning, I was off, and we took the critters (the ones we wanted to keep, that is!) to the vet. He listened to the story, and agreed that updating rabies vaccination was a good thing. He asked, “You did not handle the bat, at all, did you?”

“Nope!”

“You certain?”

“Yep, damned certain.” Then I regaled him with ED nursing experience on this very topic, and my lack of enthusiasm for recreating it in my own household.

“Do you have the bat?”

“At an undisclosed location, yes.”

“Can you bring it to me, for testing?”

“Yep. See you in an hour!”

One hour later, he returned from his back office, and regaled me with his assessment of things. “It’s a good thing you sealed the end of the hose, because I found him, frozen, about halfway up the hose, as if he was trying to escape.”

The bat was sent off to whatever lab The Un-Named Flyover State employs for this sort of testing, and, shortly thereafter, Things Got Interesting.

I received an anxious phone call from TDW, on the office line (because I shut off my cell phone at work), relating the fact that she had been the recipient of NUMEROUS phone calls from the state Dept of Agriculture, the state Health Department, the Local Veterinary University, our county health department, and those were simply the ones that she had written down the number for.

All these folks were evidently quite concerned that our friend, The Bat, had turned out to be, indeed, rabid, and every one of these folks asked, multiple times, if we had had any sort of contact whatsoever with said bat. TDW had explained multiple times that, no, we had not touched the fracking thing in any way, and elaborated my clinical experience with folks who had not acted from that sort of plan.

That was all cool. What got her wound up, was one soul who had stated that her cat, the one that she had inherited when her father had died, would have to be euthanized and examined for rabies, because she, TDW, did not have vaccination records at hand for this cat.

TDW explained that this cat was NOT going to be euthanized. The caller then directed that the cat would have to be quarantined for six months (or some such). We could do that, keeping the cat indoors (no problem, she was an indoor cat in any event, not going outside at all).

Nope, said TDW’s correspondent, said cat would have to be quarantined at the vet’s office. That meant boarding the cat, for six months. Lessee: that’s six months, at, say, 30 days each, leading to 180 days of boarding. Boarding a cat costs $30/day in our neck of the woods, so that would mean spending (lessee: carry the ‘nought, ‘nought goes into ‘nought, square root of eleventeen…) !!5 thousand, four hundred dollars!!

Holy stool! I suggested to TDW that contacting the vet her father had frequented might be a pretty good idea, long about RIGHT FREAKING NOW!, and seeing if vaccination records could be forthcoming.

She got right on it.

The Patron Saint Of Inherited Cats smiled upon us, as not only did TDW find her dad’s vet, said vet had vaccination records, and said records included vaccination for (Ta-DA!) rabies. Our vet received the records, The Inherited Cat got updated rabies vaccination, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I subsequently called a Bat Guy, seeking extermination (er, I mean, REMOVAL!) of all bats from my domicile. When I explained the urgency of the query (ie, RABIES!), I was told that “bats never pass rabies from one to the other.”

Rreeeaaalllyyy? So, bats do not groom each other? (uh, they do) Leaving behind spit? (uh, how would they avoid doing so?) And, saliva does not carry the rabies virus? (uh, THAT would be how humans acquire rabies from bats, ya know! Bat saliva into an open wound of any sort.) Therefore, he wasn’t worried about it.

Nice. That would be one of us, not him, developing rabies.

So, nobody developed rabies, animal or human. No further bats have been seen hereabouts.

Yet.

One thought on “The Bat Story

  1. Living in the great and glorious state of SD. I can relay that all state park bathrooms are storm shelters. You got to love a state that can have thunderstorms with tornadoes and a massive snow storms on the other end of the state with levels up to the butt of a tall giraffe.

    Like

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