Officials Warn of Rabid Bat Found at Santa Fe Dam in Irwindale

A big brown bat roosting on a vine in this undated file photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

A big brown bat roosting on a vine in this undated file photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

Health officials are hoping to track down anyone who may have touched a bat at the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area in Irwindale last month.

The bat has since tested positive for rabies, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a warning Monday after receiving reports that two unaccompanied boys around 8 years old may have been poking it with a stick.

The bat was found on the sidewalk near the facility’s maintenance office on Sunday, Aug. 4, officials said.

Authorities are unsure whether anyone had direct contact with the animal, and they’re hoping to speak with anyone who may have touched it.

“Any contact whatsoever with a rabid bat is a very serious health concern,” the public health warning states.

Rabies can be fatal, and preventative measures should be taken after exposure. The time between exposure and the onset of illness is typically three to eight weeks, but can sometimes take longer, officials say.

The virus is transmitted through a scratch or bite from a rabid animal.

Most bats don’t have rabies, but bats are responsible for roughly 70% of rabies deaths in the U.S., possibly because people aren’t aware of the risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far this year, 41 rabid bats have been found across L.A. County. On average about 35 rabid bats are found in the county each year, or about 15-20% of those tested for the disease.

Because it’s usually not possible to tell if an animals has rabies by just looking at it, officials say people should avoid any contact with bats.

Health officials asked anyone whose children may have been at the dam on Aug. 4 to ask them whether they touched the bat. Anyone who had contact with the creature should speak with a doctor immediately.

If you see a dead or dying bat on the ground, contact animal control. Any potential bat bites can be reported to Veterinary Public Health at 213-288-7060.

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