Written by City News Service
A rabid bat was found in Laguna Niguel Regional Park over the weekend, prompting health officials today to call on the public to come forward if they had contact with a bat near the park so they can be tested for rabies.
The bat was found at shelter 7 in the park, according to the Orange County
Health Care Agency.
Once a person shows signs of rabies, it usually is fatal, making preventive treatment essential, according to HCA officials, who said medical assistance should be sought as soon as possible after exposure to a rabid animal.
Most cases of rabies in humans comes from bats, which have tiny teeth so their bites can go unnoticed, the HCA reported.
The agency recommends avoiding contact with wild animals; getting cats and dogs vaccinated for rabies; keeping unscreened windows or doors closed while sleeping; and not leaving pet food outside where it can attract wild animals.
All animal bites should be immediately washed with soap and water and the wound flushed thoroughly before calling a doctor. Report all animal bites and strays, and close off any area of a house where bats get in.
Anyone who had recent contact with a bat in the vicinity of Laguna Niguel Regional Park is asked to call Orange County Health Care Agency Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or (714) 834-7792 after hours so a nurse can evaluate the risk for rabies.
In April 2012, another rabid Laguna Niguel Regional Park bat was found dead.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management offers the following warning about California bats: "Rabid bats rarely attack humans or other animals, but bats found lying on the ground may be rabid. Never touch or pick up any bat. Stay away from any animal that seems to be acting strangely. If you are bitten by a possibly rabid animal, you must immediately consult a doctor for a series of injections; there is no cure once symptoms emerge."