STAFF | SCV NEWS
The Santa Clarita Valley has reported one-third of 15 the rabid bats found in Los Angeles County since May.
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The fifth bat was found on a local driveway late in July, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The bat was weak but alive.
The SCV has seen a disproportionately large share of rabies cases the last three years. Since county officials started keeping records in the 1960s, just eight to 10 rabid bats were identified in a normal year. Their numbers are on the rise, but officials don’t know why.
Bats are the most common carriers of rabies, by far, but fewer than 1 percent are actually infected.
“In our area, we only have seen bat rabies for quite a few years,” said Karen Ehnert, spokeswoman for the county Veterinary Public Health Department. “But, there have been an occasional fox and opossums that have contracted rabies in Southern California.”
Healthy bats fly at night and try to avoid humans and pets.
If you see a bat flying during the daytime, attacking the family dog or its food bowl, flopping around on the ground or dead, it may have rabies.
Ehnert said that as a general rule, the public should avoid touching wildlife, especially bats that appear to be acting strangely.
“Many people aren’t aware that bats can carry rabies,” she said. “They’ve seen people handling bats on TV–on Animal Planet–and so they think it’s safe to handle wildlife, but really people should never handle wildlife.”
Instead, call Animal Control. If you think you’ve been bitten–the bite marks are small and it’s hard to tell–call 911.
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Source: Santa Clarita News