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updated: 8/21/2014 5:40 AM

Bat bite puts theatergoer on rabies treatment program

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A viewing of "Crazy for You" lived up to the crazy part Sunday when a Chicago woman was bitten by a bat at a Palatine theater.

A trip to the hospital and nine shots later, Joan Walsh, 69, is on a rabies treatment program to thwart any potential health threats from the bat, which was shooed outside after the bites, she said.

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It definitely wasn't what Walsh expected when she arrived for the 3 p.m. showing at Cutting Hall, 150 E. Wood St., with four girlfriends as part of their annual outing to see a play and then dinner.

Instead, they spent the afternoon at Northwest Community Hospital after Walsh felt something scratch her inner thigh shortly after sitting down in her seat and then another sharper scratching on her finger.

"I felt something pierce my ring finger and I looked down and it was a bat," she said. "It went into my purse and then eventually jumped out of my purse or flew out or whatever down the aisle to the back of the theater."

In all, the bat bit her three times, leaving red pinholes in her skin.

Employees at the theater, owned by the Palatine Park District, called paramedics, but Walsh declined to be transported by ambulance. Instead her friends drove her to the hospital, where she received eight shots in a series of rabies treatments required because the bat wasn't captured to be tested for rabies.

"The shots hurt worse (than the bites)," she said.

The shots also left her feeling like she had the flu and required her to stay home for a couple of days from her work at Resurrection Life Center in Chicago.

The Palatine Park District has since been in touch with her to check on her well-being, and it is paying for her rabies treatments, she said. She has two more to go.

Walsh surmises that maybe she sat on the bat, as it happened just minutes after sitting down, and then it tried to free itself, biting her in an attempt to get away.

After all that craziness, Walsh said she doesn't think she and her girlfriends will make it back to actually see "Crazy for You."

"The theater was very good about seeing that I was cared for," she said. "I just hope that they really get exterminators in there and make sure they're all gone."

The Palatine Park District couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

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