Local, state officials pay for rabies treatment after woman bitten by bat near downtown Houston

HOUSTON — Officials within the city and state health departments have collaborated to absorb the cost for all treatments need to vaccinate a woman after she was bitten by a rabid bat last week in downtown Houston.

Katie Koenig said a bat bit her hand on July 13 while she was in a Dowtown parking garage. Later, the same bat tested positive for rabies. Koenig said she does not have health insurance and could not afford any of the treatments, which cost around $4,000.

City of Houston officials said they have intervened and have asked the state health department to do the same, teaming up to help Koenig pay for the treatments. If neglected, Koenig could contract the deadly disease.

Jarrad Mears with Houston's animal control division said the state gave the vaccines at zero cost after the city asked for help.

"Whenever someone is bitten by a rabid animal, it's an urgent issue. We wanted to speed things up so the health department stepped in. Our doctors wrote the prescription and we administered the shots here at our employee clinic. It happened after hours," Porfirio Villareal of the Houston Health Department said.

Koenig received the first vaccine Tuesday night and is expected to get the second shot on Friday. City officials said she will receive four vaccines total over the next two weeks.

"I just got a call that said drop everything you're doing and come over here now. Everybody was in place lined up and ready to go when I got there. I was amazed at how many people went out of their way for me and I'm so appreciative," Koenig said.

Villareal said rabies vaccines are very effective once administered. Koenig is expected to make a full recovery.