Stories tagged pipistrelle bat

Jul
11
2008

It was horrible: just horrible.
It was horrible: just horrible.Courtesy Steveie-B
A pipistrelle bat, local to Aberdeen, Scotland, was shocked and disgusted to find the naked leg of a 19-year-old woman thrust into the soft contours of its new cave.

Having just moved from the grim crawlspaces of an Aberdeen flat, in favor of a cozier, denim living space, the two-inch flying mammal assumed that it was set for life.

Shortly after settling in for the day, however, the pipistrelle was bludgeoned into consciousness by the colossal, pale shank of a Scottish receptionist. The invading limb was squeezed through the cloth tube like a kielbasa in the neck of a beer bottle, leaving the bat little choice but to hunker down and wait for the flesh-storm to subside.

Unfortunately, the young receptionist remained maddeningly unaware of the presence of the sorely abused batty for the better part of an hour. It was not until her mother was driving her to work that the nerve signals from her monstrous appendage apparently completed the arduous journey to her brain. The screaming and thrashing that followed was no doubt tortuous for the small creature’s delicate bones and hyper-sensitive ears. One can only imagine how painful the experience must have been to the tiny merkel cells lining the bat’s wings, as the delicate, single-haired structures were meant only to sense subtle changes in air flow, not to endure the scraping of Scotch legs.

The bat was shortly evicted from its new home, and placed into a holding cell, where it was given the humiliating nickname “Rat-bat.”

“My name,” the pipistrelle was quoted, “is Henry Fitzroy-Lennox, and I want to go home.”

Lamentably healthy, the bad wondered how things might have been different, had it been a carrier of rabies. The virus, present in the nerves and saliva, could have been easily passed to the receptionist through one quick bite (or, less likely, but intriguingly possible, via an aerosol through the mucus membranes). The infection would have necessitated an injection of immunoglobulin near the infection site, and another intramuscularly away from the site, followed by several shot of vaccine.

If the receptionist had neglected to seek proper treatment for the Henry’s well-deserved revenge, she could have looked forward to the rapid passage of the virus along her nerves, through her central nervous system, to the ultimate destination of her brain, where it soon would have caused encephalitis—painful and deadly inflammation of the brain.

There’s some small chance that a drug induced coma could have saved her brain from further damage at this point, but very likely the damage would have been done, and irreversible symptoms would soon begin to appear. Initially symptoms would be flu-like, but before long the woman would have suffered from insomnia, confusion, agitation, partial paralysis, paranoia, terror, and severe hallucinations. The receptionist would have become distinctly drippy, as her body would produce excessive amounts of tears and saliva. Her slight paralysis would have prevented her from swallowing, causing the characteristic “foaming at the mouth” of rabies. She may have developed hydrophobia—a fear of water—because the excess fluid in her mouth and inability to swallow could bring her to a panic when presented with liquids to drink (indeed, “hydrophobia” was once synonymous with rabies, so characteristic was the symptom).

Approximately one week after developing symptoms, the receptionist would have died.

So, all in all, it seems that she really dodged a bullet after throwing herself in front of a gun.

Mr. Fitzroy-Lennox was released into the wild (of Aberdeen) at the end of the lucky and inconsiderate woman’s shift. He will never again put himself into a position where a receptionist could abuse him so awfully.

More from Science Buzz on bats and rabies.

More on receptionists.

More on Aberdeen.