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Rabid bat bites 7-year-old Elkhart boy

ELKHART, Ind. – A seven-year-old Elkhart boy is now relying on a series of vaccinations after being bitten by a rabid bat.

The family is thankful for getting medical attention right away, but it’s something they weren’t sure they needed to do in the first place.

Which is why the family wants the community to be aware of the fatal disease.

In the early morning hours of last Thursday, a bat infected with rabies bit seven-year-old Donte Wilson on the foot while he was sleeping.

His mother Brittany Greathouse explained what happened that night. “He screams, so I jump out of bed. He says I got bit, I got bit.”

Donte kicked the bat against the wall; it was no longer able to fly. “As hard as I can,” he said when describing the interaction with the bat.

“There was just a tiny little mark, and I’m thinking well does it hurt? He says no, so I’m like ok how serious is it?” His mother explained the questions circling her head when deciding whether or not to take him to the emergency room.

After a call to his family doctor, the family took Donte to the emergency room.

Elkhart County Health Officer Lydia Mertz said, despite not knowing what to do in the situation, the family acted correctly.

“This particular family did the right thing by seeking health care at the time, and by capturing the bat,” she said.

The Elkhart County Health Department says the bat was sent to the state to be tested for rabies, and it was confirmed to be infected with the disease.

Donte’s Grandmother Sandra Ford is worried that the community is not educated on what to do if residents were to come into contact with an infected animal.

“I’m concerned about everyone in the area,” Ford said as she explained the importance of getting information about the disease out to the public.

“It’s just that it has to be on your radar, and you have to think about it because if someone gets rabies they’re going to die,” the Elkhart County Health Officer said.

The family is now warning the community to be aware, but the Elkhart County Health Department says not to panic.

“If you were to go out and catch 100 bats, most of them would test negative,” Mertz said.

Mertz says that only a small percentage of bats are infected with the deadly disease.

“It’s less than 1 percent. It’s just that bats interact with humans so it makes it seem like it’s more than it really is,” she explained.

Donte is now being treated for the disease with a series of vaccines. He says they hurt “worse than the bat bite.”

The family is warning the community how serious a tiny bite can be. Still, many questions remain for the family.

Because Donte was treated early, he is expected to be fine. He’s been cleared to go back to school.


LINK: The Indiana State Board of Animal Health has previously provided recommendations to reduce risk of rabies exposure.

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