SPENCER (CBS) – Even as the summer fun rolls on for JoJo Keefe, a freshly healed cut on the 10-year-old’s finger reminds her of a scary detour.
“I was like oh my God it bit me!”
She’s talking about a rabid bat that sunk its tiny teeth into her finger last Tuesday during a visit to the Spencer Town Beach on Lake Whittemore.
The small bat was attracting quite a bit of attention on the shoreline just beyond the picnic area.
The trouble really began when a woman picked it up and began asking the children gathered around her if they wanted to hold it.
“Another little girl said ‘oh I want to hold it will it bite me?’ And the lady was like no it’s the friendliest thing ever,” she says.
So JoJo reached over and the bat latched on, drawing blood.
“I wasn’t crying because I was hurt, I was crying because I was scared,” said JoJo.
Her mother retrieved the sick animal which then tested positive for rabies. Soon after, JoJo was getting the first in a series of life saving antibiotic shots.
You can’t wait with rabies, because once it starts attacking the central nervous system it’s almost always fatal.
“I think there’s a lot of concern here that other children touched the bat,” said Linda Laine of the Spencer Board of Health.
Town officials suspect JoJo is only one of several curious kids to handle the bat that day, meaning its rabid saliva could have seeped into a child’s scraped hand or open eye even if they weren’t bitten.
Spencer is urging folks by sign, email, and reverse 911 to get their kids to a doctor if they were around that bat on July 17.
Read: Rabies Fact Sheet (.pdf)
The woman who urged the children to hold it has not yet been identified.
“You have an adult, an authority figure saying its okay, and it’s scary,” said Linda.
Indeed, JoJo won’t be taking anymore “bat advice” from strangers.
“Everything they said was kind of wrong,” said JoJo.