The Florida Everglades is known for its exotic landscape and its invasive pythons. But kittens? Thanks to a hungry stray that bit a compassionate, animal-loving biologist, they might be the region’s costliest risk.

In a rural area just outside Florida's Everglades National Park, Key West resident Jeannette Parke, 44, spotted the cat wandering along the road, NPR reported. It looked skinny and sick, and when Parker, a wildlife biologist, offered up some tuna she had in her car, the cat bit her finger.

"It broke my skin with his teeth," she told NPR.

And if this was any other cat, in some other part of South Florida, maybe that would have been the end of it. But no.

Instead, after cleaning the wound and doing some research, Parker found herself headed to the emergency room at Mariners Hospital. Because Miami-Dade County had recently released warnings about rabies -- a potentially fatal disease.

After two hours, a couple of injections and an antibiotic, but no time with a doctor, Parker went home “happy as a clam,” according to NPR’s “Bill of the Month” feature.

Then she got the bill: $48,512.

And $46,422 of that total was for one preventive medication.

According to NPR, the cost of post-exposure preventive rabies treatment, “which includes the immune globulin and four doses of vaccine given over a two-week period, usually costs more than $3,000 on average. Each hospital can set its own prices for treatment.”

In Parker's case, the majority of the cost was for the rabies immune globulin, NPR reported, and of course, Parker thought that seemed high. She wasn’t wrong.

"I have never heard anything that high for immune globulin," said independent biomedical consultant Charles Rupprecht, a World Health Organization technical adviser on rabies who ran the rabies program at the CDC for 20 years. "How is that possible?"

Find out by reading NPR’s full feature: Cat Bites The Hand That Feeds; Hospital Bills $48,512.

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GateHouse Media Group's Florida content team is based in West Palm Beach, Fla. GateHouse Florida stories, which run across digital, print and video platforms, are syndicated across 22 Florida newspaper markets.