HOUSTON - The City of Houston Health Department has confirmed it has arranged for the woman bitten by a rabid bat near downtown to receive potentially life-saving treatment.
Koenig was bitten by the bat in the parking garage of her Memorial Drive apartment complex at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
Emergency crews urged Koenig to go to the hospital to receive critical vaccinations in the event that the bat tested positive for rabies.
Koenig chose not to go to the hospital. The following day she received a call from the Texas Department of Health confirming the bat had rabies.
Koenig says a doctor told her this was “urgent” but not an “emergency,” and advised her that she would need three injections of vaccines to help arrest the spread of the virus. She says she was told the vaccine would cost $4,000.
“I don’t have insurance and I don’t qualify for one of the free situations,” said Koenig. "Evidently once you start the symptoms, that's the point of no return, and the shots won't work. If somebody has been bitten and they feel the symptoms it's too late, and I feel fine."
KHOU 11 News was in communication with city and state health officials throughout the day seeking a solution to Koenig’s urgent medical situation.
City health department officials advised KHOU 11 News late Tuesday afternoon they would be sending a doctor carrying an ice chest with the vaccine to administer to Koenig before it was too late. The City said the vaccine would be free of charge.
Our cameras were the only ones there at the Houston Health Department as she received the vaccinations that the local health department says it got from the state health department.
Her treatment included five shots. Health officials say the vaccinations will protect her against rabies, adding that it’s important for her to continue with the treatment.
“I'm glad to get it over with. The worst part of it--it's pretty overwhelming,” Koenig said after getting the shots. “I was completely full of anxiety. I didn't know what to expect.”
The health department said Koenig has to go in three more times for shots. They stress how rare it is to see contact between a bat and a human—it’s something they say they see about once every four years.
“Stay away from any wild animals--any animals that are meant to be in the wild,” she said. “You need to keep you distance always if at all possible which in my case it flew at me and hit me.”
Harris County reported 25 bats tested positive for rabies in 2016. That’s the third-highest number of positive cases of any county in the state.
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