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Hammer Handle

Rabies!!!!

14 posts in this topic

Not sure where to post this....

I am sure you all heard on TV or read in the Star Tribune about the guy that died of rabies. I know his family, although not real well. They deer hunt next to me "up north".

Sad, sad story for a great outdoorsman. It could happen to any of us.

We should all listen and hear his story and learn from it. We need to be careful out there!

My dog is gettin updated rabie shots as we speak....

God Bless him and his family....

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I heard about a kid who had got bit by a bat died in the last week! Is this the same situation or another?

I heard it on AM 1500!

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Here's the story:

Joy Powell, Star Tribune:

Randy Hertwig of Monticello swatted at the bat that flew around the cabin porch, and he felt only a pinprick on his hand that day in mid-August. There was no blood, no puncture marks, and he didn't realize that he had been bitten.

Only as Hertwig lay dying last week did his family and physicians realize he had contracted rabies, a neurological virus that's almost always fatal once symptoms begin. Hertwig, a 46-year-old father who loved the outdoors, died Saturday at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester.

He is the fifth person to die of rabies in Minnesota in the past century. Other victims died in 1917, 1964, 1975 and 2000.

"What is most saddening about these deaths is that they could have been prevented with prompt medical attention following exposure," said Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist and medical director for infectious diseases at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Each year, two to three people contract rabies in the United States, down from more than 100 each year in the early 1900s, according to the state Health Department.

Bats cause nearly all of the human rabies cases in this country.

Entries by Hertwig's wife, Michele, and son and daughter on the CaringBridge.org website chronicle the way Hertwig's symptoms began a month after the bite went unnoticed as he stacked firewood on a porch.

Four weeks later, in mid-September, a tingling began in his hand where he had been bitten. Soon Hertwig lost his ability to talk or even move, and by mid-October, the longtime machinist lay in a deep coma, beyond reach of even the best medicine.

It's a heartbreaking case, but also, Minnesota health officials said Tuesday, an opportunity to educate the public on how easily a person can contract rabies from a bat or wild animal. The tiny teeth of a bat can scratch or bite without a person even noticing.

"That is one of the big problems with bats, that you can be bitten and not know it," said Joni Sheftel, a state veterinarian for the Minnesota Department of Health. "You can be bitten in your sleep. You can actually have a bat brush up against you and be bitten and not realize that you are bitten."

Experts at the Minnesota Department of Health test brain samples of bats and other animals for rabies. If rabies are detected, anyone who has had contact should have vaccinations immediately. The disease can incubate in a matter of days, or even years.

Sheftel declined to provide any specifics of Hertwig's death because of medical privacy statutes but she did talk in general terms about the frequency of rabies, how to avoid being bitten, and what to do if you may have had a scratch or bite.

"We have some special rules for bats," said Sheftel, who specializes in zoonotic diseases. "The biggest one is that if you wake up and there's a bat in your room, we want you to catch the bat and we will test it for rabies. There's no charge for testing at the state."

The person trying to catch the bat should use thick gloves and a hard container. Bats can bite through sacks and pillowclothes.

"If the bat escapes, or you inadvertently let it out," she said, "then we consider that an exposure and we would recommend rabies [treatment] post-exposure."

People who may have been exposed to the rabies virus can get an injection of rabies immune globulin and five doses of rabies vaccine over a one-month period.

Sheftel said it's important not only to avoid bats or wild animals that might have rabies, but also to immunize pets.

Victim loved the outdoors

Randy Hertwig was born and reared in the Alexandria area north-central Minnesota. At 22, he married Michele Ward. He began working a few years later as a machinist for Buhler of Plymouth, where he would work for the next 20 years. In his spare time, Hertwig loved to be outdoors with his son, Jess, and daughter, Summer. They boated, snowmobiled, hunted and romped with the dogs, Aly and Gracie.

The week of Sept. 17, according to the family's entries on the CaringBridge website, Randy Hertwig put off going to the doctor about the odd feeling in his thumb and index finger. Throughout the week, the feeling spread into his hand. By Thursday, he couldn't lift his arm.

There were trips to the doctors in Monticello and tests, and then, on Saturday morning, Hertwig landed in a St. Cloud emergency room, his heart pounding more than 120 beats a minute.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) pictures showed his spinal cord inflamed. Physicians wondered if it could be a virus, or maybe multiple sclerosis. Hertwig had shooting pains in his arm, his face was turning numb and his balance was off, so walking was tough. Soon, so was talking.

By Oct. 3, it was hard for Hertwig to get up, and he barely moved his legs. The little movement he had in his left hand was gone, Summer Hertwig wrote on the website. Three days later, and the doctors had placed a feeding tube in him. A ventilator helped him breathe.

The doctors continued to run test after test, They exchanged plasma in his blood to help with clotting. Nurses kept checking his dilated pupils for a sluggish response, but didn't always get one. Last Tuesday, one more in a series of MRIs came back with worrisome findings.

The doctor "asked if Randy had been bitten by a bat recently," Michele wrote on CaringBridge.org. "In August, Randy did grab a bat out of a cabin but said that he didn't think it broke through his skin. The doctors were going to do a skin biospy and another lumbar puncture."

His family learned that there was no cure for the deadly virus, once symptoms start. It interferes with the communications channels in the brain, and progresses quickly to coma and death.

The rabies diagnosis was confirmed on Thursday.

Summer Hertwig later wrote that at 12:01 a.m Saturday, "We let God take Dad."

Though he couldn't talk, and the doctors said he was in a coma, his family believes that Randy Hertwig sent a final message. Summer wrote:

"Everyone was in the room, and Dad gave us one more sign that he loved us and that he was going to miss us just as much as he did. Most of us saw it, and couldn't believe it. He shed a tear, out of his left eye."

Investigation underway

The state Health Department is working with health care facilities where Hertwig was given care to evaluate whether any workers may have been exposed to his saliva and need treatment to prevent a rabies infection, officials said Tuesday.

Sheftel said she hopes that people who learn that a man has died of the disease will heed the warning. "Bats are found all over the state of Minnesota," she said. "It doesn't at all matter what county this particular cabin was in."

Last year, she said, the state tested 482 bat brains and found 16 had rabies. That's 3.3 percent. So far this year, the state has tested 406 bats, with 13 positive for rabies.

The treatment for rabies, if administered early, is nearly 100 percent effective, Sheftel said. The incubation for human rabies can range tremendously from person to person, from seven days to seven years, but it's typically four to 12 weeks, she said

"We really want to get this message out," Sheftel said. "Once symptoms start, it's too late."

On Tuesday night, a visitation for Randy Hertwig was held in Monticello.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Hosanna Lutheran Church of Buffalo, with visitation one hour before the funeral.

******************************************

Pretty sad...Don't take any chances. I removed a bat from our family's cabin this last summer and everyone gave me grief for wearing a set of thick leather gloves but you never know if those little guys have rabies. They are a huge rabies vector behind raccoons and skunks.

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This was a 46-year-old man.

There have only been 5 rabies deaths in MN in the last 100 years...so that kid must be from a different state or it actually wasn't a kid.

However, about 3% of the bats they tested had rabies in MN....

Thanks for posting the article. If the comment the daughter said right before he passed away doesn't get you...nothing will. frown.gif

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Some how I heard wrong!

Sorry to hear of this!

It is very sad!

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I know how you feel, I have removed 5 bats from my second floor of the apt I manage this last fall. Heavy leather gloves and heavy jacket were required. Thank god 3 of the bats were asleep hanging on the ceiling corners. other 2 required a fish net and brooms to get them to fly towards me with the net.

After reading about this story I will always be extra careful

around bats. Sad story, I am the same age. frown.gif

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Quote:

Not sure where to post this....

I am sure you all heard on TV or read in the Star Tribune about the guy that died of rabies. I know his family, although not real well. They deer hunt next to me "up north".

Sad, sad story for a great outdoorsman. It could happen to any of us.

We should all listen and hear his story and learn from it. We need to be careful out there!

My dog is gettin updated rabie shots as we speak....

God Bless him and his family....


Hi. This is Summer Hertwig, I am using my boyfriends account on here. I just wanted to say thanks for making people aware, and to see where you were from hammer handle.

Thanks

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My condolences to your family Summer.

I learned two lessons from your loss. I did not know how easily and unnoticable a bat bite could be, nor did I know that once symptoms of rabies occur, treatment is not possible.

It would be good for this sad story to be heard again next spring so others may learn these important lessons sooner than my 40 years.

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Sad story, but I think it is good it is getting some attention. I had to get rabies shots this weekend, and if I didn't read this on here I probably would not have, then who knows what would of happened.

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It's my understanding that people used to avoid the rabies vaccination because it was said to be terribly painful. However, I'm told that has changed and it's now no big deal. Brian6715, can you confirm this?

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The day I got bit (Friday the 2nd) I had to get the vaccine plus another like mass dose of something, some rabies immune globulin. That was three shots in basically my way lower back, and these 3 hurt somewhat. The vaccine is a tiny shot in the arm (1 ML) and feels no worse then a mosquito bite. I was in a 20% class of people that don't react to great to it, as I spent the next day basically passed out on the couch, felt like I ran a marathon. Today I just got my second shot in the arm, I have 3 left. They are not bad at all, and I will keep you posted on the progress! I am glad I can be the guy that took one for the team to figure this vaccine out! I will say if you get bit, or you think you got bit, go in and get the shots! It is not that bad, and maybe we all can learn from this poor guys fate. The days of the shots in the stomach are over, thats just a myth...

I will let you know what happens from this point.

Brian-

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I can confirm it. I had to have them done about 10 years ago, they give them to you in your arm or butt if thats where you want it, it was a series of many shots throughout 3 weeks, at first a couple every other day, then it slows to one the last week. Didnt hurt anymore then anyother shot I have ever gotten. Took a couple minutes during lunch hour, just walk in the dr office, thet stick me, then back to work.

Now they were very spendy! I dont remember the total cost but I believe something like $3500, for something you dont know you have, but if you do get rabies, and dont get the shots, $3500 is cheap for my life!

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Hello Summer.

I was out of town the last week and a half, so didn't reply back to you.

I was going to stop by your grandpa's deer stand and say "Hi" to his this weekend, but didn't see him there the times I came by. He helped pull my brother's father-in-laws deer out of the woods last Saturday (I think it was him). We couldn't ask for better "hunting" neighbors.

I own the 80 acres of land next to your grandpa (I bought it from my dad a few years ago). My real name is Mark.

God Bless you are your family!

Ha ha, my dad just talked to your grandpa today by the "girl scouts". My dad was very sore today being he has two replaced knees and is sore from grinding over 300 pounds of meat yesterday with me and making half of this into brats.

Maybe I will bump into him this weekend if I hunt.

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Hey Mark. We were up there this weekend too. I will probably be up there this weekend also.

Thanks for writing back smile.gif

Hope all is well!

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