TWO SEPARATE incidents in Spain saw a 59-year old woman and a 19-year-old man seek medical attention after receiving bites from bats infected with rabies.
Only 17 bat attacks have been recorded in Spain since 1987, however, this summer saw two independent attacks at opposite ends of the country just two days apart.
The 59-year-old woman from Valladolid in northern Spain was attacked by a bat when she opened a cupboard door and the animal flew towards her.
In the second instance, two days later, in Huelva in southern Spain, a man received a bat bite when saving the winged creature from his cat.
After both victims sought medical attention they were reported to be in good health. They received treatment against rabies and their wounds were thoroughly cleaned and vaccinations were administered to prevent the illness from taking hold.
Wisely, the bite victims decided to take the bats that bit them with them when they sought medical treatment.
Having the animals on hand for a thorough analysis allowed doctors to identify that both bats had European bat Lyssavirus in their systems.
Rufino Alamo, the head of public health information for the Castilla y Leon regional government said the victims were “lucky” and praised the health services on hand for their decisive response to the bites.
Mr Alamo added, “Rabies is deadly in practically all cases if it develops.”
The last major rabies outbreak in Spain occurred in Malaga in 1975 during which two people lost their lives
Elias Fernando Rodriguez Ferri, a professor of animal health from the University of Leon warns, “If anyone comes into contact with a bat, they risk contracting the virus. That’s why it’s important not to touch them, dead or alive.”
In the last 20 years, 12 people in Europe have died after receiving rabies from a bat bite and not seeking immediate medical attention.