NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A Long Island mother was angry and worried on Wednesday after learning that her 8-year-old daughter had been bitten by a bat at school.
Gina Wetherill also wanted to know why the school didn’t tell her about the attack, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Jessica Wetherill is sporting a pair of teeth marks from a puncture wound on her left arm. Now, she is in the midst of a series of painful rabies treatments stemming from a possible bat attack. Doctors aren’t taking any chances.
Last week, the third grader was inside the bathroom at Nokomis Elementary School in Holbrook.
“So, when I opened the stall I see something in my face this close. It kind of fluttered at me. I tried to push it back. It look like a bird but it was kind of black,” she said.
Then Wetherill heard students talking about a possible bat in the ceiling of a boys bathroom. One mother took a video of what she thought was a bat circling through the air in the library.
Wetherill’s mother was unaware of the possible bats or the bite until a parent teacher conference that night when other parents asked about Jessica’s health.
Gina rushed home to take her daughter to the emergency room.
“Had it been rabid, by the time you show symptoms it’s untreatable. It’s scary,” she said.
Rabies is very often fatal.
“Rabies is almost invariably fatal,” explained Suffolk Health Epidemiologist Lauren Barlow, “The virus is carried in the saliva and nervous tissue of the bats.”
When a bat is captured and tested weeks of precautionary shots are necessary.
School Superintendent James Nolan acted quickly and brought in specialists and trappers, but no bats were found.
“We’re really crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s. Checking every corner of the building,” Nolan said.
Gina is meeting with a lawyer but said that she hasn’t decided whether or not to pursue legal action against the school.
The Suffolk County Health Department said that bats mate in the late summer and early fall and may try to bring their families inside to nest.
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