City Cautions Residents to Avoid Contact With Bats

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City health officials are warning the public to avoid contacts with bats, after a bat found in downtown Long Beach tested positive for rabies. The bat was found by a local resident on Wednesday afternoon, December 3, 2014 at Victory Park near Ocean Boulevard and Seaside Way. The resident did not handle the bat and immediately notified Animal Care Services. Animal Care officials recovered the bat from the park and took the animal to the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) Public Health Laboratory for testing. The bat was identified as a Mexican Free-Tail bat, one of the most common species to be reported with rabies. It is not known how long the bat had been at this location.

“Direct contact with any bat should be avoided,” says Dr. Mitchell Kushner, City Health Officer. “If you have been bitten or scratched by at bat, or have directly handled one, seek medical attention immediately and report this to Animal Care Services”.

Rabies is a virus that causes a severe brain infection in mammals and humans that is usually fatal. Any wild mammal can be infected with rabies, but the disease is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. Humans can become infected through bites from an infected animal, or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Rabies has been rarely found in animals in Long Beach, but since the city is in the natural migration path for bats, infected bats are found approximately once per year in Long Beach. Signs of rabies in bats include: activity during the daytime (bats are usually nocturnal or active only at night), being present in a place not usually seen (such as a home, playground, or anywhere on the ground), and an inability to fly.

Direct contact with any bat should be avoided, and if a bat displaying the above behavior is found, notify Animal Care Services at 562.570.7387 to retrieve the animal for testing In situations in which a bat is physically present and you cannot reasonably rule out having been bitten or exposed, seek medical attention immediately. Because rabies is a fatal disease of which there is no treatment, the Health Department suggests these additional tips to prevent risk of exposure to rabies:

  • Teach your children to never touch unfamiliar animals – wild or domestic – even if they seem friendly;
  • Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately;
  • Request to have all bats tested for rabies if exposure to people or pets occurs (contact Animal Care Services);
  • Prevent bats from entering homes, schools, churches and other similar areas where they might contact people and pets. For advice on “bat-proofing” your home, contact Animal Care Services at the above telephone number; and
  • Be a responsible pet owner by keeping rabies vaccinations current for all pets.

For more information on bats and rabies, call the City’s Animal Care Services at 562.570.7387 or visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.

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