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Rabid bats spotted in Moorpark neighborhood

Health officials getting rid of rabid bats have been spotted in Moorpark within a one-block radius of each other.

July 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Rabid bats have been spotted in Moorpark, all within a short distance of each other.

Health officials are working to get rid of the bats and want to alert people of the threat. To some, the mere thought of seeing a bat is a little spooky.

"I've never seen a bat in Moorpark, so this is really concerning, because I don't like bats," said resident Amy Adams.

But the nocturnal creatures are very important- eating insects by the thousands, including mosquitoes. Colonies are common in Southern California and usually the animals do all they can to avoid humans, unless they're rabid.

"When bats have rabies, they do strange things," said Dr. Robert Levin from the Ventura County Public Health Department. "They appear in the daytime. When they appear at night, they'll come close to humans, they'll land on the sidewalk in front of you, and they'll enter your home."

Ten bats have tested positive for rabies in the past 68 days, all within a one-block radius of Moorpark. That's how many the health department usually sees countywide in a year.

"This concentration is excessive," said Levin.

Animal control is fairly certain it's pinpointed where the rabid bat colony is, and it's working on getting rid of them.

If you or your pet touches a bat, a series of rabies shots is in order. And there are steps to take if you see one too.

"Don't go chasing it, but if it's on the ground for instance, cover that bat up," said Levin. "If it's in a room, close that door and call animal services."

The bats end up at the Ventura County Public Health laboratory, where microbiologists take tissue samples and use a chemical reaction to test for rabies.

No one knows for sure why there are so many bats this year. All they can do is work on getting rid of the rabid colony.

"The only thing I can postulate is that we're seeing a lot more of all kinds of wildlife," said Levin. "And it's because of the rains I think. The rains produce more insects, and one animal feeds on another, and before you know it, we have a lot more bats."

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