Rabid bat enters home near Long Beach; Health department issues warning
2010-04-07 · By Editor
Acting Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anne Anglim is advising local residents to avoid contact with any bats they might come across.
“Children are especially vulnerable as they may see a bat on the ground and think it is a toy,” said Dr. Anglim.
This precaution is important as a bat recently found in a neighboring community has tested positive for rabies, which is a highly contagious disease that could be fatal in humans. The bat entered a bedroom through a sliding door which had been left open. Long Beach Animal Care Services was contacted to remove and test the bat. Public Health officials have been working with the family to ensure that family members receive necessary medical treatment to prevent infection from rabies. No Long Beach residents were exposed.
Rabies is a virus that causes a severe brain infection in mammals and humans that is nearly 100% fatal once symptoms appear. Infection, however, can be effectively prevented with prompt medical treatment. Any mammal can be infected with rabies; in California, the disease is most commonly found in bats, skunks, and foxes.
Rabies in humans is rare in the United States. There are usually only one or two human cases per year. However, humans can get rabies through bites from a rabid animal, or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Bats, the most common source of human rabies, are seen frequently in Southern California cities, including Long Beach, as this area is in the migration path of several species of bats.
Most bats don’t have rabies. Even among bats submitted for rabies testing because they were obviously weak or sick, only about 6% had rabies. Signs of rabies in bats include:
- activity during the daytime (bats are nocturnal and usually active only at night)
- bats being present in a place where they are not usually seen (such as a home, playground, or anywhere on the ground)
- bats that are unable to fly, or easily approachable
Direct contact with any bat should be avoided, and if a bat displaying unusual 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. Bat bites can go undetected because their teeth are very small and do not leave easily recognizable wounds. If you wake up with a bat in your bedroom, seek medical attention.
For more information on bats and rabies, call the Health Department’s Animal Care Services Bureau at (562) 570-7387 or visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.