Two more rabid bats turned up in the Santa Clarita Valley in the last couple of weeks, bringing to 55 the total number of rabies cases across Los Angeles County this year.
That’s by far the biggest total since testing began in 1961, and county health officials are at a loss to explain why rabies infections are on the rise. A typical year sees just eight to 10 cases across the county, almost always in bats.
Rain might not wash away rabies, but cooler temperatures and wetter weather keep the bats at bay. They like heat and humidity – so it’s possible that the county’s 54th and 55th cases of the year – the former in Castaic in late October, the latter in Canyon Country in early November – could be the last for 2012.
In all, 17 of the 55 rabid bats were found in the Santa Clarita Valley, and their distribution was fairly even from east to west and north to south.
In one highly unusual incident this year, a bat fell out of a tree in Acton and bit a person who happened to be sitting under it. The Aug. 3 episode sent the resident to the hospital with a bite would to the shoulder.
Luckily, the regimen for curing rabies isn’t as painful as it was in the “old days.”
Just in case the latest pair of rabid bats aren’t the last for the year, residents should be reminded never to touch a bat. As if we needed to tell you that.
Most bats – upwards of 99 percent – don’t carry rabies, and bats that exhibit unusual behavior don’t necessarily carry the bug. About 85 percent of the time they’ve got some other problem.
But to be on the safe side, if you see a bat flying around during the daytime, or flopping on the ground, or flying near pets or children when no food source is present, stay away. If one bites you, call 9-1-1.
And be sure to vaccinate your pets. If you don’t, they’ll be quarantined foron’t, they’ll be quarantined for six months if Animal Control officers suspect they’ve been exposed. Proper vaccinations reduce that time to 30 days of home detention.