Rabies warning: Rabid bat found in Laguna Niguel


Anyone who has had recent contact with a bat in that area is asked to contact Orange County Health Care Agency Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or (714) 834-7792 after hours to be evaluated for the risk for rabies.

The disease is almost always fatal once symptoms began to show, according to the agency. Medical assistance should be sought out as soon as possible.

The rabies virus is transmitted to people from saliva from animal bites. Although very rare, contamination of the eyes, mouth or an open wound by the saliva of a rabid animal can also transmit rabies. Most cases of human rabies in the United States in recent years have resulted from bat strains of rabies; bats have very small teeth, and their bites may go unnoticed.

The Health Care Agency and OC Animal Care recommend the following preventive actions:

- Avoid all contact with wild animals

- Vaccinate all cats and dogs against rabies

- Do not sleep with open unscreened windows or doors

- If bats are seen inside the house or other structure, close off the area and contact animal control. Once the bat(s) have been removed, close off any areas allowing entrance into the house.

- Do not leave pet food outside where it will attract wild animals.

- Immediately wash all animal bites with soap and water, being sure to flush the wound well, then contact your doctor

- Report all animal bites to OC Animal Care

- Report stray animals to OC Animal Care

- Potential exposure to a bat or other wild animal should be reported to Orange County Health Care Agency Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180. To report a bat in your home, an animal bite, or a stray animal, contact OC Animal Care at (714) 935-6848.

More information about rabies is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/rabies.

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