New Brunswick

Four-year-old boy bitten by rabid bat in Hartland, N.B.

Tasha Doherty was shocked to find out that a bat that flew into her son's bedroom and bit him tested positive for rabies.

'It could have been much worse,' says mom after 4-year-old son was bitten by a rabid bat

Andrew Doherty, 4, was bitten by a bat that later tested positive for rabies. (Submitted by Tasha Doherty)

Tasha Doherty was shocked to find out that a bat that bit her son tested positive for rabies.

The mother said her 4-year-old son Andrew was bitten by a bat while sleeping in their Hartland, New Brunswick home early Monday morning.

"My husband and I were sleeping and we heard a big thump and then a scream," said Doherty, who initially thought her son fell out of his loft bed. 

They ran into the room, turned on the light, and saw Andrew still in the bed. That's when they noticed the bat. 

"I took the kids to my daughter's room and shut the door and my husband's trying to get the bat. And that's when my son told me he was bit."

Doherty suspects their cat, who was sleeping with their son at the time, swatted the bat and that's when it bit Andrew.

After killing the bat, Doherty's husband Robert rushed their son to the emergency room to get his rabies shots. 

In a statement to CBC News the department confirmed the bat did come into contact with humans but that the “exposed persons have been treated appropriately.” (Megan Lawrence/Salthaven West)

Doherty took the bat to the department of agriculture to get tested and was informed Thursday that the bat was infected with rabies.

That's when her husband went to get vaccinated as well as a precaution.

Doherty took her cat to get vaccinated too.

She thinks the bat came into the house through the chimney since the cap blew off during the winter.

Test confirmed rabies

In a statement to CBC News the Department of Health confirmed a big brown bat that came into contact with people in Carleton County has tested positive for rabies.

The incident happened just days after a 21-year-old man in British Columbia died of rabies after coming into contact with an infected bat.

Doherty said the death of the B.C. man was on her mind during the ordeal.

"We saw that article of the man out in B.C. and I'm just like 'how is this posting at such an ironic time," said Doherty.

Incidents rare, says department

The department said contact between rabid bats and humans is rare, with only four reported incidents in the province taking place since 2017.

The department suggests anyone who has come in direct contact with a bat, or any suspected rabid animal, should contact TeleCare immediately.

It also recommends pet owners who suspect a rabid animal has come into contact with their pet contact a veterinarian.

Ava Doherty holds her cat Penelope while her other cat Phyllis waits to get a rabies shot. (Submitted by Tasha Doherty)

"If possible, do not harm the suspect rabid animal," said the department. 

"Testing animals for rabies is done on the animal's brain and this must be intact for optimal results."

Doherty says her son still has to go back for more needles in order to be fully vaccinated, but he's taking the incident in stride.

"It's quite hilarious because every now and then he'll say 'I am Batman,'" said Doherty.

"In the end you know we're just thankful," said Doherty, "it could have been much worse."

The department suggests anyone who has come in direct contact with a bat, or any suspected rabid animal, to contact TeleCare immediately. (Merlin D. Tuttle/Bat Conservation International/AP)

With files from Melissa Friedman


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