From Gardiner, with rabies: Who left a sick bat at a Maine lab’s doorstep?

Julia Bayly | BDN

File photo, July 2013. Julia Bayly | BDN

UPDATE: No sooner did I hit publish on this post than Maine CDC alerted me that the person just came forward. The individual — who heard from a school nurse where he/she works that health officials were on the case — found the bat in the garden and handled it appropriately. The person was not exposed to rabies.

A mysterious bat associated with a shadowy identity has landed in Maine.

Nope, not that one. No Batman and Robin here — more like Batman and Rabies.

Health officials are looking for someone who dropped off a bat for rabies testing at the state Health and Environmental Testing Lab in Augusta between Friday, May 8 and Monday, May 11. The bat was bagged up inside a container dropped off at the lab’s front door, according to Maine CDC.

The bat delivery was accompanied by a note that read simply, “from Gardiner.” Pithy, but short on a few facts, the agency explained in its latest public health update.

As it turns out, the bat tested positive for rabies. While chances are low that this person or a pet were exposed to the virus, Maine CDC wants to locate the individual to be on the safe side. Public health officials are cautious like that.

Anyone dropping off animals to the lab for rabies testing must fill out a submission form — available at the lab and online — so officials can assess any exposures, report results and ensure prompt medical care, the update states.


Rabies is fatal when left untreated, but the disease is preventable after a bite or scratch from an infected animal, before symptoms appear. The treatment is a combination of a rabies vaccine and immune globulin shots.

People start showing symptoms on average from one to three months after an exposure, but the timeframe can vary from days to years, according to Maine CDC.

Last year, 43 animals that exposed a person or another animal tested positive for rabies at the state lab. So far this year, nine animals have tested positive for the virus — five raccoons, two skunks and two bats (including the one in question, which presumably used its powers for good before its untimely infection).

Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.