A New Hampshire man required treatment for rabies after a bat that was reportedly hiding in his iPad case snuck out and bit him last week — and now he hopes his ordeal will help educate others about the dangerous disease.
Roy Syvertson, 86, said he had been using his tablet for about an hour before the critter popped its head out and nipped him.
“It felt like a little bee sting,” he told WMUR.com. “And I looked, and the bat was coming out of here, between the cover and the back of the pad. And then I got up, still squeezing it, which I’m sure he wasn’t happy about, and I took him outside.”
The next morning, Syvertson said the bat was still there and alive, but that he discovered it died later that night, prompting him to call the state’s Fish and Game authorities to ask about rabies.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted to humans through the bite of a rabid animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of cases reported occur in animals like raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. The virus attacks the central nervous system, which leads to brain disease and death. Early symptoms include fever, headache, weakness and discomfort, before progressing to insomnia, anxiety, confusion and possible paralysis. The disease can also cause hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing and fear of water.
According to the CDC, death typically occurs within days of the onset of severe symptoms. The virus is preventable in humans through prompt treatment.
Syvertson said that he was immediately started on treatment at the hospital and that the Fish and Game officials confirmed that bat was rabid.
“It was a good thing I didn’t decide to cuddle him a little,” he told WMUR.
New Hampshire is home to eight different species of bats, although it was not clear which type Syvertson encountered.
Last November, a 55-year-old Utah man died from the virus, marking the state’s first such death since 1944. Gary Giles had contracted the disease from bats, which had been present in the family home. Giles’ widow, Juanita, told media outlets at the time that the couple had allowed the bats to land on their hands and lick their fingers because they hadn’t known that they were infected with rabies.
To reduce your risk of rabies, the CDC advises vaccinating family pets against rabies, maintaining control of pets to reduce wildlife exposure, spaying or neutering animals to decrease the number of strays, and also reporting any stray or ill animals to animal control.