23 students urged to get treatment after handling rabid bat

-     The Lake County Health Department is urging the parents of 23 teens to get their kids rabies treatment after coming into contact with a rabid bat.

     It happened on the campus of South Lake High School, and though none of the kids appear to have been bitten, health department officials say treatment is still needed.

    They say once you begin to show symptoms, rabies is universally fatal, and because the fangs of this bat are so small, you can't always feel or see if you've been scratched, different than say if it was a rabid raccoon or fox.

    So even though none of the kids appear to have been bitten or scratched, officials at the health department say get the treatment--don't take the risk.

     The bat was a Mexican free-tailed bat.

     Twenty-two students came into contact with it on campus.

     One teen came into contact with it off campus when one of the students took it home.

      Monday, a few students found the bat on the outside wall of the school gym.

    It seemed sick, so the kids wanted to help it. A few just wanted to mess around with it, but mostly they wanted to help so they took it inside the school to show teachers and other students.

     One teacher called the CDC and the Dept. of Health and emailed school administrators.

     All the teachers told the kids to take the bat outside and put it down, but it took a few hours until the bat was contained.

     One student even took it home for a short period of time.

     23 in all came into contact with the bat that has since been euthanized and tested for rabies with a positive result.

     Principal Rob McCue said, "if it were my child, they would definitely be getting the treatment.   The way it was explained to me, it's a 100 percent fatality rate once you have symptoms."

    The treatment for rabies is no longer 21 shots in the abdomen.

    It's now five shots in the shoulder given over two weeks.

     Health officials say you have ten days from contact to get the treatment for it to be effective.

     Symptoms usually don't appear for a few weeks, but can appear months later.

     Rabies is transmitted through infected saliva, a bite into an open wound, or even into the eyes or mouth.

     Because of privacy laws, the school can't mandate kids get the rabies treatment, but they are urging parents to do it.

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