A California Brown bat found on La Paz Road in on Sunday has tested positive for rabies.
"The bat was found dead by a park ranger on a park pathway and reported to O.C. Animal Care. No one was observed near the bat, but we are asking anyone who had any contact with the bat to contact HCA Epidemiology to assess for risk of exposure," said Deanne Thompson, spokesperson for the Orange County Health Care Agency.
In California most cases of rabies occur in skunks and bats. Last year in Orange County 11 bats tested positive for rabies. This is the second bat to test positive for rabies this year in the county, she said.
Anyone who had recent contact with a bat in the vicinity of Laguna Niguel Regional Park is asked to call the Orange County Health Care Agency Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180 so that a nurse can evaluate the risk for rabies.
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.
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.
The Health Care Agency 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 animal control. 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, contact your doctor.
• Report all animal bites to OC Animal Care
• Report stray animals to OC Animal Care
Potential exposure to a bat or other wild animal should be reported to Orange County Health Care Agency 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.