A recent bat problem at Orangeburg's Regional Medical Center in South Carolina, has made headlines.
Although an infestation linked to building work has now been dealt with, health officials want to contact more than 1,000 patients and members of staff who may have been exposed to disease from the bats, according to WLTX.com. People who came in contact with the bats that have plagued the hospital could have been exposed to rabies.
Recently, Jane Carson, the hospital's public relations director told the media, the bat sightings were likely due to construction on the hospital's roof.
Lindsey Evans of S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) told the media that letters will be sent to 300 staff and 800 patients. Those who will receive letters were at the hospital between Jan. 1 and Feb. 16, when bats were sighted. Each will also receive phone call from CDC or DHEC.
The DHEC letters state: "Bats can transmit rabies to people through bites or the introduction of saliva into open wounds. Bats also have small teeth that can cause bites that may not be noticed. For that reason, it is important to identify if a person potentially came in contact with a bat. Rabies is a deadly disease, but it is preventable through a series of vaccines given after a potential exposure to rabies."
According to the letters, a contractor has helped remove the bats from the hospital and prevented future bats from gaining entrance.
Although there are no reports of bat bites to patients or staff, some patients may have not noticed they were bitten. Centers for Disease Control has information on bat bites and their possible health implications.
DHEC is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to assess whether hospital employees and patients have been exposed to the bats. Officials are asking anyone who may have had contact with a bat to call (800) 868-0404 to assess health risk and determine if preventive treatment is recommended
When you are admitted to a hospital, you should not expect to be put in a hazardous situation such as being exposed to bat bites or any other hazard. Patients who fall ill may have grounds for a lawsuit against the hospital authorities. Members of staff who fall ill in the scope of their employment, may have grounds to claim workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is a non-fault system which means an employee can make a claim without proving negligence. If you have been hurt in the workplace you should contact Masella Law at 803.748.9990.