A Bowling Green boy bitten by a rabid bat in his home earlier this week has started the series of
vaccination shots to fight off the rabies.
The 9-year-old boy, Dylan Borstelman, was in the laundry room of his home on Monday when the bat bit him
on the right hand, according to his grandmother, Sue Kepling. The family called the Bowling Green animal
control officer, who trapped the bat and took it to the Wood County Health Department. From there the
bat was shipped to a Ohio Department of Health lab, which tested it for rabies.
On Wednesday, the test came back positive and Dylan started the series of shots. Kepling said the process
was especially difficult because Dylan has autism and is non-verbal, so it was impossible to explain why
he has to go through the shots.
"You can’t take the chance," his grandmother said.
The bat is the first rabid animal identified in Wood County this year, according to Brad Espen, director
of environmental services at the Wood County Health Department.
In response to the rabies, a health department sanitarian plans to inspect the area of the home on the
east side of Bowling Green.
"We just want to make sure we don’t have a habitat conducive to bats," Espen said.
Espen pointed out that the discovery of one rabid bat does not increase the likelihood of more rabid bats
in the area.
"Just because we have one positive bat, it doesn’t mean there are others and people need to
worry," he said.
However, as always, people should be cautious of bats found in their homes.
"If you find a bat in your home, do not pick it up," he said.
The best way to capture the bat is to put something like a coffee can over the animal, then slide a piece
of cardboard under the opening. If there is absolutely no chance of human exposure to the bat, it may
then be released outside.
However, if there is any chance that the bat has had contact with a human, the health department should
be called, he said. The bat will be euthanized and its brain and brain stem tested for rabies.
"Do not smack it with a tennis racket and damage the head," he said, which may make the brain
untestable. "Bats are very fragile animals."
Anyone with questions may call the health department at (419) 352-8402. (Photo: J.D.