Lincoln high school teen recovering from rabid bat bite

Posted Nov. 21, 2013, at 1:34 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 21, 2013, at 6:48 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — She left school early Thursday with a headache and a sore arm, but the 17-year-old Mattanawcook Academy student bitten by a rabid bat last week is otherwise handling her first series of vaccinations, officials said.

The teenager endured five shots of the rabies vaccine at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln on Friday night as part of the first of four rounds of vaccinations doctors will administer over the next several weeks, Shannon Dill, RSU 67 school nurse supervisor, said Thursday.

A rabid bat bit the girl on the finger about 2:30 p.m. Friday as she tried to move it away from other students in the teachers’ parking lot at Ella P. Burr School. The disease, which can be fatal if left untreated, cannot have had enough incubation time to infect her. The headache and arm soreness are lamentable but normal reactions to the vaccine, Dill said.

“She is doing pretty well. I don’t think she will ever touch a bat again, though,” Dill said Thursday. “I think she is annoyed by the process, but what teenager wouldn’t be?”

Burr and high school officials who alerted parents Wednesday to the incident have not heard of any other possible infections, academy Associate Principal Rick Meyers said.

School officials cannot release the name of the 17-year-old without parental consent, Dill said.

The rabid-bat encounter was the first that any school officials in Lincoln could recall on a school campus.

The presence of little brown bats in Lincoln at this time of the year is unusual. Normally the bats hibernate or migrate south by now, RSU 67 Superintendent Raymond Freve said.

Freve ordered school workers Wednesday to check for signs of bats at the schools. They found none, but will search again in the spring, when bats typically migrate to the area, he said.

The injured student is due for more inoculations, this time with single shots instead of several, ending 28 days after the bite. Rabies, which can be fatal, has no treatment or cure once symptoms appear, so the quick response to the incident by school officials and the girl’s parents was excellent, said Dill, a registered nurse.

When they heard of the incident, Maine Warden Service, police and school officials immediately notified the Maine Centers for Disease Control. A CDC worker had the girl’s parents take her to get treatment immediately at Health Access Network in Lincoln and then the hospital, Dill said.

“As soon as anybody knew about it, they did everything they could,” Dill said. “She got medical treatment immediately. That’s the most important thing.”

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