A bat tested positive for rabies after being found last weekend at Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Orange County health officials said Thursday.
The bat was discovered Saturday at the park, which is located at 28241 La Paz Road, according to an O.C. Health Care Agency news release.
Even though human cases of rabies are extremely rare, the virus can be deadly and each potential exposure should be evaluated out of precaution, the agency said.
Anyone who possibly had physical contact with the bat at the park is urged to determine their risk by calling the Health Care Agency’s Communicable Disease Control Division at 714-834-8180. If a person’s pet came into contact with the bat, they are urged to call their veterinarian.
Rabies is typically contracted after being bitten by an infected animal, although there are rare instances when the virus is spread through a scratch, according to the release. Bat bites can go unnoticed, however, because the winged mammals have tiny teeth.
Of the handful of rabies cases reported in the U.S. in recent years, most were the result of the bat variant, according to CDC figures.
Someone exposed to rabies can be treated safely and effectively with a series of vaccine shots that can prevent the virus from developing, health officials say.
The O.C. Health Care Agency also provided other preventative tips:
- Avoid contact with all wildlife.
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies.
- Keep unscreened windows and doors closed while sleeping.
- If a bat is found in a residence or other structure, close the area and call animal control. Once it’s been removed, seal off areas allowing entrance into the building.
- Don’t leave pet food in outdoor locations where it may attract wild animals.
- Wash all animal bites with soap and water immediately after being bitten, then call your doctor.
- Report stray animals to local animal control programs.
More information about rabies can be found at the CDC’s website.