By Vivianna Shields
Signal Staff Writer
There has been a spike in rabies-infected bats in Los Angeles County, and of these cases, nearly 40% have been located in the Santa Clarita Valley. It is not only a serious health concern to animals, but also to humans, health officials say.
This year, there have been a total of 43 infected bats found, with 14 cases in the Santa Clarita area. Last year, only about 27 infected bats were recorded in Los Angeles County.
Dr. Jonathan Truong, assistant medical director at the Department of Infectious Disease for Kaiser Permanente, said bat surveillance findings from Dr. Emily Beeler, zoonosis veterinarian at the county Department of Public Health, brought to light the surge of rabid bats in the Santa Clarita area.
Because the symptoms of a rabid bat are not obvious, health officials say that when you spot a bat in or around your home you should be cautious. If you see a bat inside your home and did not see it enter, it’s advised to call public health for rabies exposure consultation at 213-288-7060.
If you did see it enter, you can call the county Animal Care and Control Department and they will guide you on how to safely remove the bat.
Truong advises residents to not come into contact with a bat under any circumstances, and said calling the Health Department is the best thing to do. Even if the bat is dead or dying, it is still capable of spreading the disease. Contact with its saliva, in a wound or mucous membrane, could also spread the infection.
“If you see a sick wild animal, you should assume that it has rabies and get vaccinated,” said Truong.
For a human, the signs of rabies are flu-like symptoms and numbing, since rabies is an attack on your nervous system, according to Truong. It could be fatal for a human after 10 days of no treatment.
If you are infected by a rabid bat, it is important to seek medical attention because the disease requires time-sensitive treatment. You and your pets should be up to date on your rabies vaccinations to prevent contracting the disease.
On Sunday at the Bow-Wows and Meows Pet Fair, TAGS will be providing dogs with free rabies vaccines and free vaccine vouchers for cats to take into their clinic. The fair is scheduled 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hart Park.
2019 Rabid Bat Sightings in the Santa Clarita Valley Area:
- Santa Clarita. June. Bat found dead in the backyard of a home.
- Stevenson Ranch. June. Bat found alive outside of a house.
- Santa Clarita/Canyon Country. July. Bat found floating in a pool.
- Santa Clarita/Canyon Country. July. Bat found alive on the driveway outside of a house.
- Newhall. August. Bat found alive in the backyard of a house.
- Santa Clarita. August. Bat found alive in a private swimming pool at a house.
- Santa Clarita. August. Bat found alive in the backyard of the house.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive clinging to the wall at a school.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive on the driveway in front of a house.
- Santa Clarita / Newhall. September. Bat found alive outside the front door of a veterinary clinic.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive on the front porch of a house.
- Castaic. September. Bat found alive clinging to the side of a house.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive on the front walkway of a house.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive in a planter outside of a house.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive on the ground outside of a garage.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive on the outside stairwell of an apartment building.
- Santa Clarita. September. Bat found alive clinging to the wall on the front side of a home and then found dead in a planter.