Two people in Florida who were recently munching on a store-bought salad when they encountered a decomposed bat in the package were no doubt stunned and a little bit sickened, but it turns out they probably didn't have too much to worry about.
The bat was sent to the Centers for Disease Control rabies lab for testing because, apparently, bats sometimes have the disease. The deteriorated condition of the bat did not allow for CDC to definitively rule out rabies, but no matter, the CDC reports.
More than 55,000 people, mostly in Africa and Asia, die from rabies every year — a rate of one person every 10 minutes, the CDC informs us. But that doesn't seem to be a major concern when it comes to bats in your salad.
"Transmission of rabies by eating a rabid animal is extremely uncommon, and the virus does not survive very long outside of the infected animal," the CDC says. "In this (Florida) circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people ... were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment."
Both people report being in good health and neither has any signs of rabies, the CDC says. And the provider of the salad surprise, Fresh Express, further assures us that all salad in the production run was recalled as soon as it learned that "extraneous animal matter was allegedly found in a single container of the salad.”
The company, the CDC and Florida health officials are looking into all this, so stay tuned. But there is always the chance another bat will make its way into another salad. Look, stuff gets in food sometimes.
In 2010, a Michigan family claimed to find a frog in a bag of frozen veggies, prompting a recall. Last year a New Hampshire woman said she found a live black widow spider in a bag of grapes — a year after a Pennsylvania woman made the same claim.
There are plenty more examples, some of them plenty more disgusting, but you get the point. So if you are concerned about bats and rabies and salad, you might consider moving to Hawaii. Turns out rabid bats have been documented in all 49 continental states, while Hawaii is rabies free.
If you do find a bat in your salad, don't touch it! The CDC says data suggest that transmission of the rabies virus can occur from minor, seemingly unimportant or unrecognized bites from bats.
"Human and domestic animal contact with bats should be minimized, and bats should never be handled by untrained and unvaccinated persons or be kept as pets," the CDC says. A warning most of us probably don't really need.
If there is direct contact with a bat, unless you are certain there was no bite or scratch, the CDC recommends a delightful little regimen it calls "post-exposure prophylaxis." Translation: a series of shots over two weeks.
Also, if you are wondering whether you may have eaten salad from the recalled production line, fear not.
"People who have eaten the recalled salad product and did not find animal material are not at risk and do not need to contact their health department," the CDC cheerfully reports.