19 January 2009

The inevitable happened

I got bitten by a squirrel.

It wasn’t really her fault. She was hungry and nervous, and went for what looked like a tasty peanut, and discovered it was a finger. She stopped biting as soon as she realized, but because she was in a hurry she bit far enough to break the skin.

That’s the point at which a lot of people would be yelling “Oh my god! Rabies! Help!” However, I did the research before I started feeding squirrels, and basically nobody ever gets rabies from tree squirrels. As one state’s department of health page summarizes :

Tens of thousands of squirrels have been tested for rabies at the Department of Health Branch Laboratories. Only two were reported positive — a squirrel in 1913 and, the most recent, a flying squirrel collected from Pinellas County in 1961.

So I followed CDC recommendations: I washed the wounds thoroughly with soap and water, then I soaked them in a strong saline solution, then I applied iodine, and finally a touch of antibiotic ointment.

In addition, I followed the protocol generally advised for riskier mammals like racoons: I observed the squirrel in question for a period of 10 days. The ten days are up, and I’m glad to say she is still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when she visits us each morning.

So, I’m reasonably confident I don’t have rabies. Nor have I developed any strange squirrel-like powers; I still need to use a nutcracker to open nuts.

© mathew 2017