Cases of Rabid Bats Double in L.A. County

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los angeles county map - rabid bats

This map shows where rabid bats have been found in Los Angeles County. In 2010, 21 infected bats have been identified.

With an unusually high number of rabid bats recorded in Los Angeles County so far this year, the Department of Public Health is reminding all residents to avoid touching any wild animals, especially bats. So far in 2010, 21 rabid bats have been detected countywide, compared to an average of 10 per year.

Bats are protected by federal law and are an important part of our ecosystem. In nature, about 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000 bats is infected with rabies. However when a sick bat is found, the risk of that bat having rabies is much higher; approximately 10 percent. Bats seen flying in daylight, or found on the ground, are more likely to have rabies.

Three rabid bats this year had direct contact with family pets (2 dogs, one cat) this year—just another reason it’s important to vaccinate your pets. Dogs and cats with current vaccines that have come into contact with rabid animals may be re-vaccinated and kept in quarantine for 30 days to ensure they have not been infected by rabies.

Although bats are the animals that are most likely to carry rabies in Los Angeles county. Most bats do not have rabies, and try to avoid contact with people and pets.

Bats that bite a person or pet should be tested for rabies. The bite mark from a bat can be very small and hard to see. Bats that are found indoors near a sleeping person, young child, adult that cannot speak, or pet should also be tested for rabies. In these cases, try to gently trap the bat without touching it (such as covering it with a bucket), and call your local animal control agency.

Reduce the Risk of Rabies

Individuals should take the following steps to reduce their rabies risk:

  1. Make sure pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
  2. If you are bitten by a wild animal, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need rabies post-exposure treatment.
  3. Do not try to touch any wild animal, especially bats.
  4. If a bat is found on the ground around your home or in a public place, place a box or container over it and call your local animal control agency.
  5. If a bat is found in your home and may have had access to pets or areas where people were sleeping, do not release if outside. If possible, put a box or container over it and call your local animal control agency.

If your pet has been found with a bat or other wild animals, report the exposure to the Department of public Health Veterinary Public Health and Rabies Control Program by calling 213-989-7060. For more information about rabid bats in Los Angeles County, visit the Public Health Website.

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