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IN July of this year, a client presented a pipistrelle bat at my practice. My professional obligations required that I administer to the welfare needs of the animal. My statutory obligations (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) required that, as a protected species, the bat should be tended to and released when no longer disabled; or humanely destroyed if it had no reasonable chance of survival.
I double gloved with heavy latex examination gloves before performing a preliminary examination. Other than identifying several small perforations to the membranes of both wings the animal appeared to be free of any obvious injuries.
The first priorities were to attend to the bat's hydration status and to reduce the stress of it being captive, later focusing on its nutritional needs. I contacted the Bat Conservation Trust so that I could pass the bat into the care of one of its representatives. It was during one of the feeding sessions that I was bitten twice on the finger through the doubled gloves.
On hearing of the incident a member of the trust contacted me at my practice. He was anxious that I seek medical attention and receive a rabies postexposure prophylaxis course. After several phone calls to various NHS facilities, I was finally directed to the virology department of Leeds General Infirmary. The unit could not have been more helpful. …
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