Health officials in Pasadena are looking for anyone who may have come into contact with a rabid bat found in the city this week.
The bat tested positive for rabies after it was found around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on the ground near State Street and South Fair Oaks Avenue, the Pasadena Public Health Department said in a news release.
Late last month, officials said 41 rabid bats have been found so far this year across Los Angeles County, up from an annual average of 35.
In Orange County, another three bats have tested positive for rabies in less than a month, most recently outside a Kohl’s.
Authorities are uncertain whether anyone could have come in direct contact with the bat found this week in Pasadena.
Rabies is often fatal if preventative measures aren’t taken soon enough after exposure. The virus typically sickens people within three to eight weeks after contact with a rabid creature, but it can sometimes take longer, public health officials say.
The virus is transmitted through a scratch or bite.
In L.A. County, bats are the only animals known to routinely carry rabies, though rabid skunks can be found in other parts of Southern California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Although there has been only one bat that tested positive for rabies so far this year in Pasadena, there is the potential for additional rabid bats in the area,” Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena’s public health director, said in a statement.
Bats are responsible for roughly 70% of rabies deaths nationwide, possibly because people aren’t aware of the risk, the CDC says.
Authorities say most bats found in L.A. County don’t have rabies. But people should still avoid any contact with them, because it’s usually not possible to tell if an animal has rabies by just looking at it.
If you see a dead or dying bat on the ground, contact your local animal control agency.
Any potential bat bites can be reported to the Pasadena Public Health Department at 626-744-6089. If a pet was involved, contact an emergency veterinarian.