CAMBRIDGESHIRE: Bat bite victim has rabies injection

PUBLISHED: 13:58 17 July 2009 | UPDATED: 09:10 02 June 2010

A brown long-eared bat

A brown long-eared bat

By THOMAS TAWELL BITTEN by an injured bat, Scott Van Slyck from Sawtry, had to have an emergency rabies injection. Eighty hours after the bite, he got the injection that he needed. Mr Van Slyck, who moved to Cambridgeshire nine years ago from Canada, was

By THOMAS TAWELL

BITTEN by an injured bat, Scott Van Slyck from Sawtry, had to have an emergency rabies injection.

Eighty hours after the bite, he got the injection that he needed.

Mr Van Slyck, who moved to Cambridgeshire nine years ago from Canada, was hosting a "Canada day barbecue" for friends and neighbours last Saturday <11>.

At 3pm, children playing in the cul-de-sac where his house is situated, found an injured brown long-eared bat, put it in a box and presented it to the table of adults.

Mr Van Slyck sought the advice of the RSPCA, who advised him to wait until dusk before handling the bat.

As dusk fell Mr Van Slyck attempted to pick up the bat, which bit him on his finger.

"I rang the RSPCA again who said to wait until it was a little darker. I told them about the bite but they didn't say anything."

Once more Mr Van Slyck was bitten, this time on his other finger.

They tried to release the bat but it feel to the ground.

This time the RSPCA advised him to take it to the vet at Pets At Home in Peterborough.

The next day Mr Van Slyck and his wife took the bat there, but the vet did not know what to do with it. The vet at Pets At Home tried another vet, but he could not deal with it either. Instead they ended up bring the bat home.

Mr Van Slyck rang the RSPCA who, this time, sent round an officer to collect the bat. The bat was then taken to East Winch Wildlife Centre in King's Lynn.

Through his own research he found out that bats can carry EBLV, a form of rabies, which set alarm bells ringing. He queried the RSPCA officer about it but was surprised at her response.

Mr Slyck said: "There was a sense of urgency."

On Monday he went to see his GP, who did not know what to do and put him in touch with a public heath authority doctor, who spoke to her colleagues about the situation.

"They were fifty fifty whether I should have immediate treatment or wait to see what happens."

"On Tuesday I received a call from another doctor at the public health authority, who couldn't get through to the conservation to find out the state of the bat."

A lady from the main health protection agency in London then contacted Mr Van Slyck.

"She told me to have the inoculation done as soon as possible."

She talked with the consultant virologist at Addenbrookes and made sure that the medicine Mr Van Slyck needed was available at his local pharmacy. She also spoke to his GP to make him aware that he needed immediate inoculation.

Mr Van Slyck said: "My GP told me that he was going home at eight and that the on call doctor was busy with swine flu. He said to take your chances or come in first thing in the morning."

At 8pm Mr Van Slyck picked up the required medicine at an out of hours pharmacy before arriving at Addenbrookes Hospital 15 minutes later.

Three and three quarter hours after first stepping into the A and E waiting room, he was finally given the injections.

In total he received four injections of Rabies Immuno Globulin and one injection of the rabies vaccine. When bitten you have to be injected on the third, seventh, fourteenth and twenty-eighth day after the bite took place, so he has a few more to come.

It can take weeks to months before symptoms occur and there is nothing that can be done to cure the disease once symptoms have arisen.

However, the bat has since died and Mr Van Slyck is waiting to hear whether the bat was a carrier. So far the brown long-eared species of bat have not been found to carry the disease.

Mr Van Slyck said: "The reason I rang the press is to increase the awareness that you shouldn't be handling an injured bat. If you do you should wear thick gloves and keep it away from your pets and children. The bat conservation Trust is more than willing to pick them up.


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