Infected Bats Pose Health Risk for Pets and Humans

While this is an alert issued Thursday, April 8, 2010, in Long Beach, CA, its information remains important in any area where infected bats pose a health risk for pets and humans. In the original health alert, Acting Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anne Anglim issued a warning to local residents recommending they avoid contact with any bats they might encounter. “Children are especially vulnerable as they may see a bat on the ground and think it is a toy,” said Dr. Anglim.

The warning was issued as bats infected with rabies have been found recently in the Long Beach area, but readers were cautioned that the problem could well apply to all of Southern California (and any other region lying within bat migratory paths). While all mammals are vulnerable to this disease, which is fatal if not treated before symptoms appear, bat bites are especially dangerous because they have tiny teeth and the wounds may go unnoticed, as John Keisler, author of the Long Beach advisory about this issue notes.

Keisler advises anyone who has found a bat in the bedroom on waking to seek treatment as a precautionary measure, and reports people should be vigilant about rabies prevention for themselves as well as their pets. The release included the following tips from the Long Beach Health Department to prevent risk of exposure to rabies.

1. Teach children to never touch unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they seem friendly;
2. Wash any wound from an animal thoroughly with soap and water; seek medical attention immediately;
3. Request to have all bats tested for rabies if exposure to people or pets occurs (contact Animal Care Services)
4. Prevent bats from entering homes, schools, or areas where they might contact people and pets by keeping doors and windows closed or covered with screens.
5. Be a responsible pet owner by keeping rabies vaccinations current for all pets (both cats and dogs);
6. Contact Animal Care Services about any sick or injured stray animal or for information on controlling nuisance wildlife.

If you have any concerns in your location, we suggest you contact your local Health Department’s Animal Care Services Bureau. For more information on rabies, its treatment, and more about symptoms to look for in affected animals, you can check the article by clicking the bat:

bat vampire flying

NOTE: We wish to thank John Keisler, who sent the press release detailing this important health concern for the Long Beach government, and also Peter Weinstein, DVM, MBA, Executive Director, SCVMA, for circulating the advisory to members of the SCVMA.


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