In preparation for a trip to Brazil, I got a slew of vaccinations in the last couple of weeks. Now discovered a bat flying around our cottage in the middle of the night. Apparantly, if you are asleep in a room with a bat, they consider that a "serious exposure" to a potentially rabid animal. We didn't know that and let the bat escape, we we are being treated in t he same way as if we have been bitten (apparently bats may be able to infect you without leaving any visible marks). Great, now we are human pin cushions.
The implications of being treated for rabies are needles: plently of needles.
Especially for my wife who did have a mysterious pair of scratches, there is both immune globulin (a special variant filled specifically with rabies antibodies) and rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccination these days (2006) is a series of 5 innoculations spaced over the course of about a month, which is pretty bearable except for two problems: it's an unusual procedure and our medical system is already prone to delays. As a result I have spent MORE than half my waking hours in the last day or so waiting around for nurses, doctors, pharmacy people, etc. In fact, the reason I have type to enter this blog text is because I have been waiting to a Provincial health professional to call, and I am too stressed to do anything substantive. The people involved are almost all very nice and helpful, but it takes a long time.
- series of 5 vaccinations, to be started as soon as possible after exposure and definitely within a couple of days,
- immune globulin, to bolster the immune system while the vaccine gets working (which can take up to 5 days). The volume of serum in our case is 9ml, which is too much for a single injection, so we need 4 shots for this.
Rabies has a long incubation period, so there is time for this vaccine to work after you are exposed.
Rabies is almost always fatal (only 3 recorded survivors) so treatment is strongly recommended.
Exposure to a rabid animal, specifically a bat, may not be noticed if you are asleep in the room with it. (In 2000 a child died here in Quebec from rabies due to bat exposure, despite an absence of noticable cuts, scratches, etc.)