Spencer child treated for rabies; officials fear more children may be in danger

A 10-year-old is being treated for rabies after she was bitten by a bat Tuesday afternoon at Luther Hill Park in Spencer, according to a public health official.

Other children were reported to have come in contact with the bat, but their identities are unknown.

Lee Jarvis, director of the Department of Public Health for Spencer, said he fears the other children who touched the bat might be in danger.

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“If left untreated and it’s contracted, [rabies] is almost always fatal,” he said.

Jarvis said accounts differ in details, but it seems that a bat fell out of a tree into the waters of Lake Whittemore, which borders Luther Hill Park. A fisherman picked up the animal and showed it to some children.

“More than one child handled the bat,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said a lifeguard intervened and told them to leave the bat alone, but the 10-year-old had already been bitten. The girl’s mother was instructed to immediately contact her physician.

The animal control officer euthanized the bat, which was then sent to the state lab for testing, Jarvis said. At 4 p.m. Thursday, Jarvis said he received confirmation that the bat was rabid.

Infected animals carry the virus in their saliva.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, it is very rare for people to die from rabies in the United States. Of the 55,000 people who die from rabies each year, only one or two of these deaths are in the US.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the most recent human cases of rabies in the US have been contracted from bats.

Calls, texts, and emails were sent to Spencer residents alerting them to the incident.