HOUSTON– It was something out of a horror movie when a woman parking at a garage near downtown Houston noticed something on her hand.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw something fast. I felt a little bit of burning and a little bit of the pressure of the hit, and I just kind of flung it off my hand,” Katie Koenig said.
Koenig said she started panicking as her hand started bleeding from the bite marks.
“I’m starting to take a picture of it and it opened its wings. And at that point I realized that was a bat. I had just been bitten by a bat,” she said.
The Houston Fire Department came and safely captured the bat and took it to the city’s health department for testing.
Turns out, the bat tested positive for rabies!
“I thought there was a chance maybe their lab tests were possibly wrong,” Koenig said.
Porfirio Villareal, a spokeperson for the Houston Health Department, said this was the seventh bat out of 21 to test positive for rabies this year.
Last year, 11 out of 24 bats tested positive for rabies.
Villareal said bat attacks are extremely rare and the city has not heard of any reports for a few years.
Experts said getting bitten by any rabid animal should never be left untreated.
“If you get bitten by a rabid bat you have 14 days to get treated and get vaccinated. Once that 14-day incubation period passes, that’s it. There’s no cure for rabies once you’ve contracted it,” Mike Garrett, owner of the Critter Team, said.
Between the hospital bills and vaccines, Koenig said the price tag is starting to add up. With no health insurance, she’s looking at paying thousands of dollars — or more — for treatment.
“I’m scared. I’m panicking. I’ve never even seen a bat up close before. But I’m trying to stay as positive as possible,” Koenig said.
Officials said bats help keep mosquito populations down and do more good than bad, so not much is done to keep the bats away.
If you come in contact with a bat, you’re urged to contact authorities right away and seek medical treatment.