Updated 11 April 2017

Vampire greens? Dead bat found in prepackaged salad

Health authorities studied the remains of a dead bat discovered inside a prepackaged salad mix for possible traces of the deadly rabies virus.

Nobody likes to find a foreign object in their food, but unfortunately it is not uncommon. Many people complain about finding weird things in their food like hair, nails, or even a piece of glass, but no one expects to find a dead bat.

US health authorities studied the remains of a dead bat discovered inside a prepackaged salad mix sold in Florida for possible traces of the deadly rabies virus.

'Extraneous animal matter'

After the worldwide outbreak of the SARS virus, a study conducted on bats estimated the existence of around 5 000 coronaviruses in bat populations. Some of these coronaviruses have the potential to emerge as human pathogens. It is reported that the SARS-like virus enters the bodies of bats and humans in the same way.

The Orlando, Florida-based Fresh Express announced a "precautionary recall of a limited number of cases" of their prepackaged Organic Marketside Spring Mix, which had been distributed to Walmart stores across the southwestern United States.

The company issued the recall when it learned "that extraneous animal matter was allegedly found" in a salad container.

"Out of an abundance of caution, all salads manufactured in the same production run are being recalled," Fresh Express said, failing to describe the offending "animal matter".

Rabies contagion unlikely

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was working with the Florida health department and the US Food and Drug Administration "to support an investigation of a dead bat" found in the packaged salad sold at "a grocery store in Florida".

The bat carcass however was in poor condition.

"The deteriorated condition of the bat did not allow for CDC to definitively rule out whether this bat had rabies," which is endemic to the creatures across the United States, the CDC said.

CDC spokesman Thomas Skinner told AFP on Monday that the chances of rabies contagion from a dead animal are very low.

Health24 review on rabies states:

  • It is a fatal brain inflammation (viral encephalitis)
  • It is caused by the rabies virus and other rabies-like viruses
  • It occurs in wild and domestic mammals and occasionally in humans
  • It spreads from animal to animal, and animal to human
  • About 600–700 cases of animal rabies and 20–30 diagnosed cases of human rabies occur annually in South Africa
  • Rabies in a human typically begins 20–60 days after exposure
  • Early symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
  • Symptoms extend to aggression, muscle spasms, excessive salivation, and seizures
  • It could eventually lead to death
  • Human rabies can be prevented by vaccines, even after exposure
  • There is no cure

Read more:

How to identify rabies

Rabies, dogs and people

Children most likely to contract rabies