updated 9/25/2006 9:44:53 PM ET 2006-09-26T01:44:53

A western Iowa woman is recovering from the shock of finding a drowned bat in her tea mug — after she sipped from the cup all day.

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The brown bat, about the size of two tea bags, was found a few weeks ago by a 60-year-old Woodbury County woman, said Chuck Cipperley, an environmental director for the Siouxland health office in Sioux City.

"I knew the person, so I knew it was no joke," said Cipperley, who took the call from the woman.

The woman, who declined to identify herself, told Cipperley she found the bat when she was cleaning out the mug at night. She said she put the bat in a plastic bag before alerting the Siouxland health office the next morning.

Cipperley said the bat was sent that day — Sept. 1 — to the University Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville. Results showed the bat did not have rabies.

State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk said had the bat been rabid, the woman probably would have undergone a series of rabies shots, even though the probability of contracting rabies would be low.

The virus needs a break in the skin to enter the body, said Susan Brockus, state public health veterinarian.

Mike Pentella, program manager at University Hygienic Laboratory, said the bat was a first for the lab.

"We test many, many bats," he said, "but none that have drowned in a cup of tea before."

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