This post is for anyone, particularly in Houston, who has been bitten (or thinks they might have been bitten) by a bat. I’m going to detail a day-by-day description of the hell that John and I have been through since last Wednesday.
Wednesday evening: Our cat, Maggie, dragged a bat into the house. She shouldn’t have been out after dark, but we’d been outside grilling and she’d disappeared when we came back in. We lock the cats’ flap from the inside at night, so they can get in but not leave. I heard her meowing in the living room and called to John that she was home but had brought us a present. When John said it was a bat, I ran into his office screaming and locked the door. John is in charge of critter removal, and bravely went after the bat, which was still alive. It jumped into the air and Maggie swatted it down. John covered it with two plastic Kroger bags and trapped it inside. He took it out into the yard, shook open the bag, and the bat flew away.
BIG MISTAKE. DO NOT LET THE BAT GO.
If you come into contact with a bat, you MUST keep it and have it tested for rabies. We knew this, but we’d been working through a bottle of wine and could only think about getting the thing out of the house.
I’m going to keep adding to this post as time allows. Rest assured, however, that we’re okay.
Thursday: Once the bat had left, our first concern was Maggie. She must have sunk her teeth into the bat to bring it in through the flap. Supposing it had rabies? John was up most of the night Googling bat stuff, and as soon as the vet’s office opened he called for an appointment and took both cats in to be checked. Their rabies vaccinations were a couple of months overdue, but the vet was not concerned, saying that the stuff stays in their system for a long time. She gave them both rabies booster shots, told us to keep an eye on Maggie for any symptoms, and to keep her quarantined for ten days. Total cost of visit: $275.50.
I told a friend about the incident, and she said that if you’re bitten by a bat you might not even feel it. I told John this, and he went pale and said that he’d felt the bat struggling inside the bag. He checked his hands for bite marks. His right hand was a bit red, but otherwise there were no signs.
This is getting long-winded, so you can follow the story down below:Friday: Maggie was fine, but upset at being grounded. The weather’s been gorgeous in Houston. We turned off the air conditioning and kept all the windows with bug screens open so that she and Condi could sleep on the window sills.
Sunday evening: John discovered two tiny scabs, about a quarter of an inch apart, on the back of his right hand. He had no idea how he got them. He talked about going to see his doctor the next day. We’d been doing a lot of rabies Googling over the last few days. One finding was that rabies vaccine costs $7,000. Another sleepless night.
Monday: John got an appointment for 2:45 p.m. with his GP. His GP got the County Health Department on the phone and they discussed the matter. The Health Department said that one in ten bats caught by cats are rabid. The doctor said that if there was a 1 in 100 chance that John had been bitten, there was therefore a 1 in 1000 chance that he could die. The Health Department recommended that he get rabies shots. They told him not to go to a hospital as the charges could total $20,000. The GP referred him to a doctor who specialized in infectious diseases. He got an appointment for the next morning.
Tuesday: I took off work and went to the infectious disease doctor with John. Two hours in the waiting room. Then John appeared with a prescription. We had to drive home, pick up a cooler, pack it with ice, and then drive to the Health Department on the other side of town to pick up the initial vaccine (HRIG). There was nowhere to park and there were tow trucks circling. I waited outside in the car, and John went in to pick up the vaccine. It was $1,995.95. We then drove back across town to the other doctor. John had five shots. Two in each hip and one in the arm. And yes, they were painful. But at least they weren’t in the stomach like the old days. We got home at 5:30 p.m.
That was the worst of it. Now he has to show up four more times over the next month for four more shots. He went back on Friday and then will go again on Tuesday, and then each following Tuesday. We don’t know yet how much of this his medical insurance will cover. I’ll update as things progress.
Sunday morning, November 21st: John had his last vaccination on Tuesday. No side effects. Each doctor’s visit took about three hours out of his day. He had to report to the doctor each time before the nurse could give him the shot. The Blue Cross bills should be arriving on our doorstep soon. No doubt just in time for Christmas.
to be continued . . .
Wednesday, December 29th: Bill from the infectious disease doctor for $636.13. That’s in addition to the $25 charged for each visit. It doesn’t look as if the insurance will cover any of this. No bill yet from the City for the vaccine.
Friday, January 21st: The City of Houston did send a bill for the vaccine. We paid it today. $1,653.86. John is calling Blue Cross Blue Shield to pick a fight.
Same day: John spent half an hour on hold with Blue Cross Blue Shield. They said their network only covered $270 of the vaccine.