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Bat bite at Longview store leads to rabies treatment

By by Peggy Jones
Jan. 29, 2013 at 11 p.m.

A Longview woman said Tuesday she has been advised by physicians and state health officials to undergo a series of rabies vaccinations after being bitten Monday night by a bat at a Longview retailer.

LaKishia Wiley, 42, said she was picking up concrete cinder blocks at Home Depot and placing them on a cart when she felt something crawl onto her hand.

"I thought it was a rat at first, and I pulled my hand back and screamed," Wiley said. "And my friend there with me screamed. I said, 'That's a rat!' and my friend said, 'No! That's a bat!' "

Wiley said her friend ran to get a store employee, "And we told him 'There's a bat' and he said, 'It's a warehouse. They get in here from time to time - bats, rats and birds."

But, at that time, Wiley said, the three could not locate the suspect bat.

Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes responded for the company in an emailed statement. "Although we haven't been able to confirm all of the details about what actually happened to Ms. Wiley, we're terribly sorry for her experience and are treating this seriously," Holmes said. "In addition to animal control's visit to the store, we're taking further precautions through a third party firm hired to deal with any sort of pests that might enter the store, so I'm confident it will be resolved."

Wiley said she paid for her concrete cinder blocks and left. Shortly thereafter, she said, she became nauseous so her friend drove her to Good Shepherd Medical Center.

Longview Environmental Health Supervisor Buck Farrar said he was notified of the bat bite around 8 p.m. Monday after hospital personnel called 911.

All animal bites are routinely reported by emergency personnel to 911, Farrar said, and police then notify animal control.

The Texas Department of Health Services reported 304 confirmed cases of rabies in bats in Texas in 2012. Skunks are the most common carrier with 566 confirmed cases in Texas during the past year. There have been no rabies cases confirmed in Gregg County since 2009 when four skunks and a cat were diagnosed with the deadly disease. The last case of a bat diagnosed with rabies here was in 2006, according to the state.

In 2010, there was a case of rabies in a bat found in Harrison County.

Farrar said animal control officers contacted the store manager Monday night. A worker located what he believed to be the suspect bat - but it flew away.

"They did see a bat," Ferrar said. "It's not a make-believe bat."

After speaking with animal control, Farrar said the store sent five men to "scour the place for the bat."

But it was not seen again.

Store employees were instructed to contact animal control if they saw it again, Farrar said; and Wiley said she was advised by medical personnel to undergo the rabies shots.



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