Gilbert woman warns about rabid bats after one bit her in the back

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Erika Irwin) (Source: Erika Irwin)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Erika Irwin) (Source: Erika Irwin)
(Source: Erika Irwin) (Source: Erika Irwin)

A rabid bat bit a Valley woman and she didn’t even know it.

Erika Irwin is one of the three recent rabid bat cases that prompted Maricopa County health officials to issue a rabies warning Thursday.

She was talking with her husband outside in Gilbert in mid-August when she felt something brush her back.

[RELATED: Maricopa County public health officials see spike in rabies cases]

“We didn’t see anything. We did a swivel this way and that way,” she said.

Five minutes later, she discovered a bat was stuck to her shirt. She tried to swipe it off of her.

"It stuck to my hand so I actually had to fling it off of me," she explained.

[RELATED: County health officials warn of increase in rabies cases in animals]

"I don’t know if I got caught by the fang, by the face, by the weird talon things. It’s kind of creepy," she said. 

Health officials said Irwin's case is rare and that “bats don’t attack people."

However, they want people to make sure they don't touch wildlife and make sure their pets are up-to-date with their rabies vaccines. 

Tonight, she’s sharing her story in hopes it gets everyone to take the county’s warning seriously.

Irwin can laugh about it now, but said it was a scary experience.

Rabies targets the central nervous system and is deadly.

"We were literally thinking he (my husband) could be planning a funeral," she said. "I’m very thankful and I pray to God every day that I’m alive." 

Irwin plans to celebrate by wearing a bat costume for Halloween and getting a tattoo of a bat in the spot where it bit her.

"It was a very unique, very interesting situation, not something you hear about every day," said Irwin. 

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