LINCOLN, Maine — RSU 67 officials warned parents Wednesday that a small group of children might have been exposed to rabies after a Mattanawcook Academy student was bitten by a rabid bat near Ella P. Burr Elementary School last week, Superintendent Raymond Freve said.
Maine Center for Disease Control tests confirmed that the bat tested positive for rabies Tuesday and that the 17-year-old girl was going to get medical treatment immediately, Freve said.
The incident, Freve said, is the first that anyone can recall of a bat coming in contact with students or being near the two adjoining schools off Route 2, or Main Street.
“I am having our people look around for any signs of bats in or around the buildings,” Freve said Wednesday. “Usually the telling tale in a building is the smell of droppings because they [bats] go back to the same place every night.”
The 17-year-old was bitten after she saw several younger students gathered around a bat on or near school grounds. She approached the students to warn them to stay away from the bat, which had apparently flown into something and broken a wing, Freve said.
The student had possibly picked up the bat when it bit her, Freve said. CDC workers were notified and took the bat for testing.
School officials notified parents of Burr and high school students about the incident with a letter CDC workers provided that is posted on the school website, sad67.k12.me.us. They also sent out all-call pages to the parents through the regional school unit’s pager system and will be sending students home Wednesday with copies of the letter, Freve said.
“We want to make sure that no children came in contact with the bat. An exposure is defined as a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Rabies is not spread by petting the fur of a rabid animal,” the letter states.
“Parents of children that came in direct contact with the bat should contact their healthcare provider right away. We urge you to call your provider before going to make sure they have the medication to provide to your child to protect him or her from rabies,” the letter continues. “Rabies is a medical urgency, not an emergency.”
Anyone who might have come in contact with a rabid bat or other animal can call Maine CDC at 800-821-5821.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause death if left untreated. Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, but rabies in animals — especially wildlife — is common in most parts of the country, according to Maine CDC.