CALDWELL, Idaho -- A girl bitten by a rabid bat near a Caldwell bridge will undergo treatment.
The first stage of treatment, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, involves an anti-rabies serum injected near the location of the bite, said Randy Barnes, physician director of the West Valley Medical Center Emergency Department.
The girl also will receive four shots of rabies vaccine -- the first immediately following the serum injection, and three more over the next two weeks.
The treatments are a precaution, Barnes said.
"We don't label her as a rabies patient, because it's quite likely she won't show any signs or symptoms," he said. "But it's such a devastating disease, we don't take the chance."
The longer the disease is in the body, the harder it is to treat, Barnes said.
The girl, whom The Associated Press identified as Jasmine Ruiz, was playing near the Indian Creek Bridge in Caldwell when the bat bit her, according to a Southwest District Health statement.
District health officials confirmed Wednesday that the bat tested positive for rabies.
Bats are an especially common carrier of rabies, a virus that feeds on the body's nervous system, Barnes said. People who become infected can "truly start acting crazy, out of sorts," he said. Left untreated, rabies can lead to extreme physical weakness, fevers and chills, and even death.
Other common rabies carriers include raccoons and skunks. Dogs and cats can carry the virus, Barnes said, but a transmission from a domestic animal to a human has not been reported in the United States since the 1950s.
People who encounter bats should avoid them, said David Loper, the district's environmental health director. Anyone bitten, scratched or otherwise exposed to bats should seek medical help immediately, he said.
)2012 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)
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