Ucluelet man Gilbert Deforge is recovering after being bitten by what doctors believe to have been a bat on Sept. 19, 2019, possibly exposing him to the rabies virus. (Gilbert Deforge/Submitted)

B.C. man recovering after bat bite, possible rabies exposure

Gilbert Deforge was enjoying a late-night fire with friends when he suddenly felt a burning pain

A Ucluelet man is recovering after being bitten by a bat.

Gilbert Deforge told Black Press Media he was hanging out by a late-night fire with friends last Thursday when he felt a sudden burning pain on his leg.

He ran inside to roll up his sweatpants and have a look, and found two puncture marks.

A bat had been flying around the fire, but Deforge said he didn’t think it would bite him without being provoked.

Thinking he’d been bitten by a spider, his wife called him an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital in Tofino.

After speaking with doctors, he realized “it would have to have been a three-foot-by-three-foot spider” to give him that bite.

He was told he’d probably been bitten by the bat, and given half a dozen shots in case the bat had rabies.

“That was brutal,” he said.

He’s due for his last shot on Oct. 2.

“Other than that, I’m feeling pretty good,” he said, adding that his leg is still a bit swollen and sore.

Doctors told him to watch for symptoms of rabies such as hallucinations, restlessness or muscle spasms. He also had a CT scan and doctors said he seemed out of the woods.

Still, he said it was a good thing he went to the hospital so quickly. “It could have been a lot worse.”

READ MORE: B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Back in May, a man died after coming into contact with a bat, also on Vancouver Island. His infection was the first case of human rabies in the province since 2003.

According to the Ministry of Health, about 13 per cent of bats tested in the province come back positive for rabies.

Anyone who comes in contact with a bat should immediately wash the area with soap and water, even if there is no obvious bite or scratch, and consult a healthcare provider immediately for a vaccine to prevent infection.

READ MORE: Bat from Denman Island tests positive for rabies

Deforge said he is worried about his dog getting bitten as well, considering bats’ recent “very strange behaviour.”

He said he’s seen them swoop down at deer near his property, and that his landlord has complained of bats dive as if to attack.

“If they’re going to attack people, they’ll definitely attack a pet,” he said. “Obviously something is going on with them. They need to be checked.”

Mandy Kellner, provincial coordinator BC Community Bat Program, responded to Deforge’s concerns.

“I have not received any other reports about increasingly aggressive bats in B.C.,” Kellner told Black Press Media. “There are certainly an increasing number of people and a loss of natural habitat, and so I would expect that people and wildlife that adapt to human presence may encounter each other more frequently.”

— With files from Nina Grossman



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