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Leander ISD Student Getting Rabies Shots After Handling Bat At School
They're flying nocturnal creatures that create a big attraction in Austin. But a loose bat in a Central Texas school landed one student in the hospital fighting to avoid rabies.
Dawn Warren's son is a student at Naumman Elementary in Cedar Park. She says a substitute teacher and students last week had a run-in with a nocturnal predator.
The child says a bat was flying around the stairwell of the school, and eventually it landed on the ground. He says the teacher handed him a thin bag and told him to pick it up. The bat got loose and flew away, but the child had already been exposed.
"This wasn't just an incident, it was serious," Warren said.
It can be potentially deadly if the bat is carrying rabies. Doctors say people can be exposed to the danger even through thin materials.
"It actually travels along the nerves until it reaches the central nervous system, and causes dysfunction of all the nerve cells and ultimately death," said infectious disease physician Matthew Robinson at St. David's South Austin.
There is treatment available if you come into contact with a bat. Experts suggest you contact your doctor within 24 hours to discuss your options. The treatment usually involves multiple shots on different days to help fight the virus.
Dawn Warren says it was bad enough the teacher didn't tell anyone about the incident, but when she confronted the school about the potential thousands of dollars in medical costs, officials said they aren't liable.
"I understand certain accidents are going to happen that you can't avoid, but when a teacher says it's OK and supervises the whole thing and there is a bad outcome, I believe the school should be liable," Warren says.
School officials say they were not aware of any student coming in direct contact with the bat.
A spokesperson for the Leander School District said, "We are currently investigating a recent bat incident at Naumann Elementary, and are working with all of our staff and substitutes on our bat protocols to ensure that everyone understands the appropriate way to handle bats on and off our campuses. We are continuously looking at ways to improve our safety procedures and are working closely with our campus administration and risk management staff to provide a safe learning environment for all of our students. Student safety is our top priority."
For more information on what to do if you come into contact with a bat, go to http://www.cedarparktx.us/index.aspx?page=301.
By Adam Racusin