Passengers sought from flight with bat - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Passengers sought from flight with bat


MADISON (WKOW) -- Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are still trying to get in touch with passengers who took a Delta flight from Madison to Atlanta last week.

There was a bat on the August 5 flight, number 5121, and CDC officials are trying to gauge if any of the passengers could have been exposed to rabies.

Health officials aren't sure if the bat had the virus. It escaped from the plane and was ushered out of the terminal by airport staff.

"The risk is quite low; nevertheless we want to be sure we've contacted all the passengers on that flight," said CDC spokesperson Jeff Diamond.

As of Saturday evening, Diamond said the agency has gotten in touch with 36 of the 50 passengers. Delta did not keep contact information for all the people on board, but did provide the agency with a list of names, he said.

For more than a century, rabies was a certain death sentence if it wasn't treated with a dose of life-saving vaccine shortly after exposure.

That is, until Jeanna Giese of Fond du Lac got the virus from a bat in 2004.

"The bite wound was really small. It really just looked like a pin prick," she said. "I didn't think anything of it."

Giese was 15 at the time. On September 12, she and her mother were in church when a bat flew in. Parishioners swatted at the animal, and knocked it to the ground, she said.

A life-long animal lover, she asked her mother if she could pick it up and take it outside.

About a month later, Giese began feeling tingling in her left arm, and her symptoms got progressively worse.

She was taken to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin where Dr. Rodney Willoughby performed an experimental treatment on her.

"They gave me four drugs to me into a coma and then basically it was my body that took care of the rest," she said.

Giese became the first known person to survive rabies without a vaccine.

In June 2011, the same technique was used to save an 8-year-old in California, only the third person in the U.S. to survive rabies without vaccination.

"Rabies can take several weeks before it manifests itself in symptoms, so it's extremely important that anybody who was on that flight, just go ahead and get checked out," said Diamond.

Passengers are being asked to call the CDC at 1-866-613-2683.


ATLANTA (WKOW) -- Health officials say a bat on a flight from Wisconsin to Atlanta last week has sparked a national search for passengers to protect them against possible rabies.

Officials don't know if the bat had rabies. It escaped. But they want to alert passengers of the risk just in case.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is trying to reach all 50 people who flew on Delta flight 5121, which departed from Madison, Wis., to Atlanta at 6:45 a.m. on Aug. 5.

CDC officials asked anyone on the flight to call 1-866-613-2683. The airline didn't retain the records for all the passengers.

The jet was in the air when the winged animal emerged and a passenger shot a video. Click here to see that video.

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