SANTA ANA (CNS) - A bat found alive in a parking lot in Anaheim has tested positive for rabies, the fourth rabid bat found in Orange County over the past couple of weeks, health officials said today.
The bat was found about 8:30 p.m., Sept. 21, at 1250 N. Red Gum St. It was the third rabid bat found in Anaheim.
The recent increase was characterized as unusual by health officials, but rabid bats are routinely found each year in the county and nationally.
Another bat was found about 4 p.m. Sept. 18 at the north entrance of a building in the 4300 block of East La Palma Avenue, according to the Orange County Health Agency.
On the same day, a bat that ultimately tested positive for rabies was found inside a bike rental shop at Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Road. Another bat found at the east entrance of a commercial building in Anaheim on Sept. 13 also tested positive for rabies. That bat was found about 3:45 p.m. at 1188 N. Euclid St.
Anyone who may have had physical contact with any of the bats or saw someone else having contact with them was asked to call the health agency's Communicable Disease Control Division at 714-834-8180, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or 714-834-7792 after hours to determine the risk for rabies.
Owners of pets who may have had contact with the bats should contact their veterinarian.
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. Because bats have very small teeth, their bites may go unnoticed.
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is always nearly fatal, which is why preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed. Doctors say medical assistance should be obtained promptly after an exposure so any wound can be cleaned and preventive treatment can be started.
More information about rabies is available at the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.