Third bat in Lee’s Summit tests positive for rabies

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A third bat in the city of Lee's Summit, Mo., has tested positive for rabies.

The latest bat bite happened around 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night, on the back porch of a home, located in the 100 block of NE Misty Meadow Lane, as homeowner Daillie Rafol was outside grilling burgers for himself and his wife. He says at the time he was wearing flip-flops.

"I was grilling like this and I felt something nibble my toe and it actually startled me,” said Rafol. "Then when I looked down I thought initially it was a bullfrog and then I turned the light on and saw that it looked like a bat."

The bite doesn't look like much, but it did break the skin. Rafol says he didn't think much of the bite or the bat until he walked outside the next day.

"The next day it was still here,” said Rafol. "It was actually clinging on here upside down on the step. We have a picture of it. And I even covered it. I didn't want it to die."

Concerned for the bat's health, Rafol called Lee’s Summit Animal Control, but his concern for the bat quickly turned to concern for himself. As standard procedure, the bat was recovered and sent for rabies testing. Prior to learning of the positive test results, Rafol had already began the precautionary series of rabies shots.

"They told me you need to get admitted to the ER,” said Rafol, who is now in the middle of a series of five rounds of shots. "It was painful; I’ll put it to you that way. I mean, I have a high tolerance for pain but I was grimacing."

Experts say getting treatment is the only thing that will save your life. Rodney Wagner, manager of the Lee’s Summit Animal Control says they have captured 35 bats this summer, tested 25 and three have been positive for the rabies virus.

"Having three test positive is pretty unusual,” said Wagner.

Officials say bats live in colonies and one infected bat can spread disease pretty quickly to others.

Almost 100 percent of rabies infections are fatal but also 100 percent preventable.

Wagner says people who die from rabies first go to the doctor thinking they have the flu.

"They treat them for flu and test them for other things like MS because they can't detect what it is,” said Wagner. "And by the time they find out that its rabies, it is too late."

Bridgette Casey with the Jackson County Department of Health says the rabies virus is carried in and passed through saliva, and it's not only an animal bite that can do it.

"If you get a bite or a scratch or touch your eyes or it gets into other mucous membranes of a person then you can be infected also,” said Casey.

Two other bats recovered from Lee's Summit tested positive earlier this year. The first bat was recovered on June 1 in the 800 block of NE Chestnut Street. The second bat was recovered on June 8 in the 1200 block of SW Walnut Street.

Residents are reminded to avoid direct contact with any deceased animals that appear to be sick. Pet owners are reminded to have their pets vaccinated against rabies on an annual basis.