Ucluelet man rushed to hospital with possible rabies exposure

WatchA Ucluelet man is recovering after being bitten by a bat and undergoing rounds of shots to protect him from rabies. As Skye Ryan reports, Gilbert Deforge was rushed to hospital in Port Alberni last night after a bite led to heavy sweating, vomiting and swelling.

The huge bite beneath Gilbert Deforge’s pant leg is the scariest thing he has ever experienced.

“It hurts, it’s painful,” said Deforge, a Ucluelet resident.

“It burned my whole leg. It felt like it was on fire,” he said.

It was dark when he was bit but two fang marks suggested to health official that the bite came from a bat. Deforege was sitting outside his home in Ucluelet last Thursday night when he was bitten.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Deforge.

The 56-year-old landscaper’s leg is now covered in bruises. He’s been vomiting and sweating profusely and he’s undergone a huge round of shots and tests after being rushed to West Coast General in Port Alberni. It’s all out of an abundance of caution as the bat could test positive for rabies.

“I still can’t even get over that,” said Deforge.

“It’s like wow that never happens. I’ve never heard of it happening.”

The rabies virus is rare but can have fatal consequences. In July, 21-year old Nick Major of Parksville died after being bitten by a bat infected with rabies. It was the first confirmed rabies death in B.C. since 2003.

The heightened awareness has health officials rushing to immunize and test anyone potentially bit by a bat since the fatal incident.

“What we’ve really seen over the last couple of months is an incredible increase in the number of people coming forward telling us about their interactions with bats,” sland Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback said.

Hasselback says 285 people have been given rounds of vaccines for potential rabies exposure from bat bites in B.C. in the past two months. It’s a 20 per cent increase from the usual rates.

“The message is definitely getting out,” said Hasselback.

“If you ever get bit by a bat, don’t hesitate,” said Deforge.

“Deal with it, like right now.”

Deforge was been cleared to return home after a CT scan.  But more shots will be required in coming weeks before he’s given the all-clear that the worst of this bite is now behind him.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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