A bat found on a picnic bench adjacent to the lake and near a restroom at William Mason Regional Park in the City of Irvine on April 15, 2017 has tested positive for rabies.
Anyone who may have had physical contact with this bat or saw someone else having contact with the bat is asked to call Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or (714) 834-7792 after hours to determine the risk for rabies.
The rabies virus is found in an animal’s saliva and is transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal. Although very rare, contamination of the eyes, mouth or an open wound by the saliva of a rabid animal can also transmit rabies. Most cases of human rabies in the United States in recent years have resulted from bat strains of rabies; bats have very small teeth, and their bites may go unnoticed.
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For that reason preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies. Medical assistance should be obtained promptly after an exposure so any wound can be cleaned and preventive treatment can be started. This treatment is safe and effective.
HCA and OC Animal Care recommend the following preventive actions:
- Avoid all contact with wild animals.
- Vaccinate all cats and dogs against rabies.
- Do not sleep with open unscreened windows or doors.
- If bats are seen inside the house or other structure, close off the area and contact OC Animal Care. Once the bat(s) have been removed, close off any areas allowing entrance into the house.
- Do not leave pet food outside where it will attract wild animals.
- Immediately wash all animal bites with soap and water, being sure to flush the wound well, then contact your doctor.
- Report all animal bites and stray animals to OC Animal Care.
Potential exposure to a bat or other wild animal should be reported to HCA Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180. To report a bat in your home, an animal bite, or a stray animal, contact OC Animal Care at (714) 935-6848.
More information about rabies is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.
This article was released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.