Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fine, but don't blame me if you wake up pecked to death

Someone told us there had been a deer on K Street the other day.

I turned to Nick. "Do deer bite?"


"Do they bite? Like, would they bite you?"

"They don't like people. They'd run away. I think you're safe from the deer."

"But a rabid deer? It could bite you, right?"

"Goddammit, Lis, are we back to rabies again?"

The truth is, we'd never left. He'd just had a brief respite.

I don't know if you heard that NPR story a few weeks ago about the woman who got attacked by a rabid, 30-pound raccoon? (Which I would link to except that I can never, ever seem to find the NPR program I want when I go looking.)

Anyway, she fought and fought and finally called her husband and son with her cell phone. They had to beat it something like 45 times with a tire iron before it died. Because rabies affects your central nervous system, the animal had much more adrenaline and strength than it otherwise would.


And I was thinking, Betty is just a little tiny thing and she spends a lot of time in the back yard. There's no way she could fight off a rabid raccoon. I immediately Googled. If you start looking, rabies is everywhere.

And then, then, when I wasn't even looking! There was that story about the woman in Arizona who ran a mile back to her car with a rabid fox clinging to her arm. She chucked it in the trunk and drove to the hospital, and then it jumped out and bit an animal control officer. They both had to get rabies shots.

I don't know how much you know about rabies, but once you start exhibiting symptoms, it's almost always fatal.

Plus, apparently you can get bitten by a rabid bat in your sleep and not even know it. So if you wake up and there's a bat in your room, you should assume there's the possibility of rabies.

Things like this terrify me. Even though I never see bats. But that's the thing. You might not even see it coming. And then suddenly you can't swallow and you're disoriented and then you're dead. See how easily it could happen?

I realize that I have a tendency to fixate. And that I come up with implausible scenarios. But, like eating the whole pint of ice cream, I can't seem to stop myself. Nick's patience has been worn thin.

"What about a bird? Birds could get rabies, right?"

These questions come out of the blue. Or as we're falling asleep.

He always takes a deep breath. "It would have to be bitten by something. Birds can fly, remember?"

"Right. But what if the bird ate a piece of a dead animal that had rabies? Or came into contact with the saliva. It's possible, right?"

"Yes, fine, yes, it's possible."

"And then the bird could swoop down and peck at you. . ."

"Can we stop with the rabies?"


  1. Oh, man, Lisa...this Thanksgiving I am thankful for you. I just luaghed my ass off.

    I knew someone who got bitten by a bat and had to do the rabies shots...not fun.

  2. Birds are scary, rabies or no.

    I make my dogs practice letting me put them in a strangle hold, in case they ever get rabies. Or become zombie dogs, like in "I Am Legend."

  3. If you lived where I live, you would NEVER take your trash out. Our dumpsters are overrun with rabid raccoons. I picture a round of painful belly shots every time I dispose of my JCPenney catalogues.

    Once, while camping, I awoke to a bat in the tent. It landed on my blanketed foot. I thought that rabies was certain. I swaddled myself in blankets until I achieved a burrito-like appearance, rolled myself off of the bed, out of the tent, and to the safety of the bug laden woods.

  4. Lemmonex - Ah, thank you Lem! Big hug to you!

    saratogajean - They can be scary - those pecky beaks. As for the dogs, here's hoping they become zombies rather than rabid. It seems like zombie is easier to deal with, if equally dangerous.

    FreckledK - Nooo! I hate camping anyway and now this! Scary scary scary. And there are tons of raccoons around the city - and they're mean!

  5. You know, I've never been afraid of rabies, seemed very Old Yeller. But, I have always been afraid to go jogging under the Congress bridge at the Town Lake trail where the bats live and come flying out at dusk everyday. Once the air smells like amonia, I turn around and run. A little faster, in the direction I came.

  6. Ha ha ha: "Can we stop with the rabies?" One less thing for you to worry about is birds: since they are not mammals, they cannot contract or transmit rabies.

    If you haven't seen the Late Night show with the lady you cited who was bitten by a rabid fox, watch this (Emma Thompson at the end is HILARIOUS:


  7. Maybe it's time to switch to worms for awhile. You know, with the holidays and all that food and things sitting out....

  8. There was a raccoon on my sister's balcony last week. She called me and was very upset at the raccoon situation. I thought she was upset that there was a RACCOON ON HER BALCONY but no, she was upset that her boyfriend wouldn't let her go hug the raccoon. My sister is so weird.

  9. All I was thinking was this:

    What about rats? We have rats all over our neighborhood. They scuttle in front of us sometimes at night. Can rats have rabies? We have a mouse in the house too. If a bat can bite you in your sleep, a mouse could too, right?

    You are not alone, my dear.

  10. HKW - I've been to that bridge! We sat out and watched the bats at dusk! This was years ago - long before this fear developed. But like you'd I'd head the other direction running.

    J - Nooooooo! I knew that bubonic plague still existed in the world, but I had no idea it was in the US.

    LJ - You have definitely assuaged my fears in terms of birds. I will watch this when I have a moment (read: when I can furtively watch at work with the knowledge that nobody is likely to drop by_.

    DCup - AGH! You got me! I was eating as I read that and got all ewey squeamy in my tummy.

    Hillary - Thank GOD her boyfriend has a lot of sense. Did you read about the man who got mauled because he tried to hug a panda?

    LiLu - Eeeeee! Yes, rats everywhere - and they're big and fearless! Hell, yeah. Although as I understand it you wouldn't necessarily know if a bat bit you, whereas you WOULD if a mouse or rat did. Gross.

  11. While you don't have to worry about birds and rabies, they can carry the West Nile virus. That was always popular when I lived down in Texas.

    My sister's fav stat: Children growing up in Connecticut (where she and her family live) have a 100 percent chance of contracting Lyme disease before turning 18.

    But that's New England, not here...so don't worry.

  12. YES!!!!! I heard that story on NPR and haven't been the same since. And the vaccination was something like 35k! I am on the verge of asking Chris to build a tunnel from the front door to the car and then maybe make a concrete wall around our yard that's, oh, 30 feet tall because OH MY LORD... RABID COYOTES! And racoons, and deer and now possibly birds - so we'll have to put netting up, too.

  13. Deer biting? Um, kicking and goring and trampling more likely. Feel better?

    No thanks necessary.

  14. My family had to get rabies shots about 12 years ago because a bat got into, and then out of the house. Protocol in PA is for everyone to get the shots. Good news? Not in the belly anymore. One big gammo-globulin in the butt, then the rest in the arm over a couple of weeks. Not fun, but not nearly the horrible experience it used to be.

  15. FoggyDew - Listen, I'm plenty worried about West Nile and Lyme, but thanks for the suggestions. And is that stat true? It's terrible!

    Her Royal Troutness - I know! How can you NOT be freaked out by it? But not birds - as LJ said above (and I googled and verified) - no rabies in birds.

    lacochran - Yes, thanks very much.

    Andie - I heard they had improved dramatically. But your whole family - that is brutal.

  16. One time when I was a kid my parents and I switched rooms because I was having a sleepover. Somehow a baby possum got into my room and bit my dad's toe.

    I slept in the guest room for years. Creepy!

  17. This made me think of a Thanksgiving when I was a kid, and we visited some family friends. The oldest daughter read me a children's book about a dog that got bit by a rabid raccoon. It seriously freaked me out so bad. What kind of literature for kids tells a story about a dog nearly dying from rabies!?!


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