By Leon Worden, SCVNews.com
We’re number one.
More rabid bats have been found this year in the Santa Clarita Valley than in any other region of Los Angeles County, according to data from the county health department.
As of Friday, 23 rabid animals – all bats – had been identified since Jan. 1 throughout Los Angeles County. Nine of them were found in the Santa Clarita Valley, and most of them in recent weeks.
A normal tally would be 8 to 10 for the entire county in a full year, officials say.
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Year to date, no other part of Los Angeles County has so high a concentration as the SCV. Locally, the rabid bats have been found in a variety of places – on the ground near a school in Valencia, in a pool in Saugus, in a dog’s mouth at a local condo complex.
Their distribution throughout the SCV is quite even. Of the nine found so far in the SCV, a health department map (below) shows five of them inside Santa Clarita city limits in Newhall, Valencia, Saugus and Canyon Country. Four were found in the unincorporated communities of Stevenson Ranch and Valencia-Westridge.
While bats are by far the most likely animals to carry rabies in Los Angeles County, the Health Department points out that most bats do not carry rabies, and they generally try to avoid humans.
“Bats seen flying in daylight, or found on the ground, are more likely to have rabies,” county health officials say. “Never touch a bat or other wild animal. If you pick up a bat with your bare hands, you may be bitten and exposed to rabies.”
Bite marks from a bat can be small and difficult to see. The Health Department advises calling Animal Control if one is found indoors near a sleeping person, young child, adult who cannot speak, or a family pet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that bats are good for the environment because they eat harmful insects and pollinate plants.
Furthermore, according to CDC, bats aren’t blind, they aren’t rodents and they don’t suck your blood – but if one bites you, you should call 911 immediately because if it is rabid, you could die. Rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.