A government report, released today, reveals that in August of last year 53 people aboard a commercial flight from Madison to Atlanta were potentially exposed to the rabies virus by a stowaway bat.
While it is not clear how exactly the bat got on the plane, shortly after takeoff it was spotted circling around the cabin. It was eventually trapped in the lavatory.
When the plane returned to the airport maintenance crew members attempted to remove the bat. But the sneaky bat escaped and officials were unable to determine whether it was carrying the deadly virus. The bat was last seen exiting the airport through automatic doors.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say health officials should be prepared to deal with events like bats (and snakes?) on a plane,
“Although a bat, or any wildlife, aboard a commercial airliner is unlikely, public health practitioners should be prepared to respond to potential exposures to rabies and other infectious agents, including during air travel,”
The most common way for people to get rabies in the U.S. is through contact with a bat and rabies infections are usually deadly. Exposure to bat saliva can transmit the rabies virus, which attacks brain and nervous system cells.
The CDC report said that while none of the passengers who were interviewed afterward needed to get the vaccine, five could not be tracked down ”” the flight’s original passenger list was voided and replaced.
Read more at MSNBC.