Local News

Rabies Alert Issued For Durham County

Posted May 11, 2006

— Katie Stainback described to WRAL what happened when she got bitten by a bat that flew into her yard in Durham County.

"I was convinced I was dealing with a bug," said Stainback.

By the time she figured it out, the bat had attached itself to her pants.

"I thought it was a leaf at first," she said. "They're very small. When I went to brush it off, that's when he began biting me."

And that's when Stainback's experience working for a vet immediately kicked in.

"I shut the bathroom door," she said. "I grabbed a tumbler and an envelope from some mail I brought in and caught it between the tumbler and the envelope."

At that point, Stainback's family covered up the bat and left it on the porch for Durham County Animal Control to pick it up. Tests later showed the bat had rabies. The incident prompted Durham County to issue a rabies alert.

"If you find a bat in your house and you can't catch that bat and it gets away, you have to assume you've been exposed and seek care for that," said Brian Letourneau, with the Durham County Health Department.

That's advice that Stainback followed. She started undergoing treatment for rabies exposure even before the tests on the bat came back.

"I knew in this case I was definitely bitten, and it was an animal behaving in an atypical fashion," she said.

The health department said Stainbeck did the right thing by seeking treatment immediately and not waiting. According to the health department, there's only been one case of someone surviving the disease.

The family was concerned that it took Animal Control 24 hours to pick up the bat. Durham County health officials said they're satisfied with the procedures in this case. The test results were returned within 12 hours of arriving at the lab.


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