Officials are warning the public after a bat recently found in the city of Orange tested positive for rabies.
The rabid bat was discovered around 4 p.m. last Tuesday along a brick wall between the 1500 and 1600 blocks of East Santa Ana Canyon Road, the Orange County Health Care Agency said in a news release Friday.
While the health agency notes that rabies cases are rare in humans, they say that every possible exposure to the potentially lethal virus “should be carefully evaluated.”
Rabies is spread from infected animals via bites or, in rare instances, from a scratch where saliva gets into the wound, according to the release.
The majority of human rabies diagnoses stemmed from bat strains of the virus, officials said.
It’s important to get treated if infection is suspected right away because, “Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal,” Orange County officials previously said. “For that reason, preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies.”
The incubation period can last weeks or even months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The initial symptoms can be similar to those of the flu, such as fever, headache, or weakness or discomfort.
Treatment includes a series of rabies vaccines, which are administered in the arm over a two-week period.
Anyone who believes they may have come into contact with the bat is urged to immediately call the Orange County Health Care Agency epidemiology program at 714-834-8180.
After 5 p.m. and on weekends, callers can dial 714-834-7792, where they can leave a message and their call will be returned.
More information can be found through CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.