A 10-year-old Massachusetts girl is receiving a series of painful rabies shots after a woman in Spencer Town Beach, who claimed to be an expert, told her that the rabid animal was safe to hold because it was "the friendliest thing ever."
JoJo Keefe was visiting Spencer last Tuesday when she and other girls found a bat. A woman told the children that she had a degree in bat biology and began passing it around to the children, according to the Daily Mail.
“Another little girl said ‘oh I want to hold it will it bite me?’ And the lady was like no it’s the friendliest thing ever,” Keefe recalled to CBS Boston.
When it was Keefe's turn to hold the bat, the wild animal sunk its teeth into her finger.
"I wasn’t crying because I was hurt, I was crying because I was scared," she explained.
Keefe's mother captured the bat and it later tested positive for rabies.
Rabies is a disease that causes inflammation in the brain. It is almost always fatal to humans within days if it isn't treated within 24 to 48 hours, before it infects the central nervous system.
Keefe said the three shots she has received already were more painful than the bite itself. She will have the final prophylactic injection next week.
Spencer Board of Health Chairman Linda Laine said the town was working to identify other children that may have been infected if the bat's saliva came in contact with an open wound or even their eyes.
The town also wants to identify the woman who claimed she was a bat expert.
"You have an adult, an authority figure saying its okay, and it’s scary," Laine pointed out.
As for 10-year-old Keefe, she will be more cautious of strangers who tell her bats are cuddly.
"Everything they said was kind of wrong," she said.
Watch this video from CBS Boston, broadcast July 23, 2012.