GREELEY, Colo. - In the midst of a deep sleep, a Greeley woman says she didn't think to look at what was nipping on her toes. Now, a week later, she's undergoing an expensive series of rabies vaccinations.
"I felt a pinching on my feet," Rachel Carnes said. "I kicked something off."
She also heard scratching on the walls the next night. That's when she called a friend to help her search for the uninvited house guest.
It turned out to be a bat that was hiding in a nook inside her bedroom.
"I was kind of panicking," Carnes said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh it bit me,' I had no idea."
Greeley Animal Control Office Rod Unrein says Carnes is not the only person to be bitten by a bat while they slept.
"We've had an animal control officer that was bitten in bed as well," he said.
And because he was once bitten, Unrein now uses tongs to clutch the critters.
"I didn't feel it, it's just a small pinch and then I realized it when blood came out," he said.
He was tested for exposure to rabies after that experience. The test came back positive.
"If there's an exposure, it will be tested and then after results come in they determine if [the person] needs to be vaccinated" he explained.
So far this year, Weld County has reported 17 cases of human exposure to rabies, six of those reported to be veterinarians or veterinarian technicians. There were just 13 throughout all of 2012.
In neighboring Larimer County, 18 people were treated for exposure to rabies this year. A total of 10 bats caught in that county were examined because of potential exposure to humans or animals.
With that in mind, Carnes is going through a series of rabies vaccinations involving eight injections.
The sequence started with "two (shots) in the foot, one in the hip and one in the arm."
"Then I had to go back a few days later and get another shot and then it's a series of four shots after that," Carnes explained.
She has accumulated $2,000 worth of hospital bills so far.
Animal Control says the bats tend to flock to older homes. Carnes' home is about 100 years old.