Nineteen elementary school children in Texas are feared to have been exposed to rabies after ‘playing around and tossing’ a sick bat that was found in a jungle gym on campus grounds.
Security cameras at Lagos Elementary School in Manor found that the children were playing with the rabid bat for about nine minutes on Monday morning.
The bat was later confirmed to have been infected with rabies after tests were performed by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
‘The students were seen touching the bat in the school playground,’ Manor Police Sergeant Craig Struble told NewsNation Now.
As of Friday, none of the students are believed to have contracted rabies, which is treatable if detected early. If not, however, it can be fatal.
A rabid bat (like the one seen in the above file photo) was found on a school playground in Manor, Texas, on Monday
Nineteen schoolchildren played with the bat after finding it on the playground of Lagos Elementary School
School administrators immediately notified parents of children who potentially were exposed and urged them to get tested
‘At this point there are no confirmed cases of kids contracting rabies from the bat.’
Jacqueline Padhaisky, the Manor Police Department’s animal control officer, was notified on Monday by the school’s pest control manager that students found a bat by the playground.
Padhaisky told KTBC-TV that she was told by the school that ‘a little boy had been kicking around’ the bat.
She said she had a bad feeling when she was told about the bat because in the five months on the job, she has tested several of the animals who were later determined to have been infected with rabies.
Padhaisky said that the bat found at the school was showing signs that it, too, was rabid.
‘Before i tested it, I had a bad feeling because it wasn’t flying, it wasn’t injured…it was flip-flopping,’ she said.
After tests confirmed that the bat was indeed infected with rabies, Padhaisky alerted the superintendent of schools in Manor.
Jacqueline Padhaisky, the Manor Police Department’s animal control officer, said several bats in the area have tested positive for rabies
School administrators then worked to identify all the children on the playground who came into close proximity with the bat as well as teachers who came into contact with the children.
Padhaisky said that 19 kids ‘were playing with the bat, running around, tossing it, dropping it.’
The kids played with the animal for about nine minutes until one of them alerted a teacher.
School officials then identified all of the students involved and made telephone calls to their parents.
‘Your child may have been potentially infected by a rabid bat,’ the parents were told.
The next step was to quickly get the children tested.
‘If you get infected by a rabid animal and you don’t know it or you don’t go and take care of it right away with the shots – once you start showing rabies symptoms, it’s too late,’ Padhaisky said.
Rabies, which almost always is caused by bites from rabid dogs, kills tens of thousands of people a year worldwide.
The viral disease is rare in developed countries thanks to routine vaccination of pet dogs, but still kills about 69,000 people globally every year, mostly in poor and rural parts of Africa and Asia.
About a third of rabies-related deaths are in India alone.
The virus, present in an infected animal’s saliva, is transmitted to people through a deep bite. It is one of the few diseases in which a person can be protected by a vaccine after being exposed.
Its incubation period is usually one to three months.
As the virus spreads through the central nervous system, fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord occurs.
In the United States, treatment for someone infected with rabies is not cheap. The post-exposure sequence of shots could cost up to $15,000.
An animal infected with rabies will show strange behavior, including fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, staggering, and paralysis.
Padhaisky is warning the public that if they see an animal that is showing signs of being infected with rabies, ‘Do not touch it. Do not go near it.’
Authorities said those who think their child may have been exposed should contact the Manor school district at 512-278-4093, and a healthcare provider. They said people should also call Manor Animal Control at 512-230-8348.
RABIES, EXPLAINED: BACKYARD ANIMALS CARRY THE DISEASE THAT IS NEARLY 100% FATAL
By Mary Kekatos, Health Reporter for DailyMail.com
Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system and the brain.
It is almost 100 percent fatal if left untreated.
The virus spreads to people via the saliva of infected animals, usually from a bite, but the saliva can also enter through a cut or break in the skin.
In the US, the animals that most commonly transmit rabies are bats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks.
Signs and symptoms:
- Excessive salivation
- Difficulty swallowing
The virus can lay dormant in the body between one and three months in what is known as the ‘incubation period’.
When a person begins showing symptoms, the disease has usually progressed to a point where it is fatal.
Those who believe they’ve been bitten by a rabid animal should wash their wound with soap and water and immediately seek medical attention.
The Mayo Clinic states that two forms of medication need to be given, within 10 days of infection.
- Rabies immune globulin shot: Gives a person antibodies against the virus and should be administered near the bite site as soon as possible after the bite
- Series of vaccine shots: Helps the body make its own antibodies against the virus. There are four shots that are administered over 14 days
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have only been 23 cases reported of rabies in the US from 2008 to 2017, with eight of those being contracted outside the US and its territories.
There are typically one to three cases reported every year, the agency says.
Source: Mayo Clinic