October 4, 2023

Public well being officers reported final week that seven wild bats examined constructive for rabies in Los Angeles County up to now this summer time, and extra are anticipated as bat season will get underway.

Bats are the first provider of rabies, a neurological illness that’s deadly to people and pets with out quick post-exposure remedy. And Los Angeles County has led all counties within the state with the best variety of rabid bats for a number of many years, state information present.

Summer time and early fall months are the first time for rabid bats to start exhibiting up in houses or public areas, in response to the Los Angeles County Division of Public Well being. A bat with rabies will fly within the daytime, or hold lifeless on the aspect of a wall or lie on a sidewalk. Anybody who sees a bat in misery mustn’t contact it or attempt to revive it, officers stated.

“Rabies is 100% deadly. It’s actually critical. It has one of many highest fatality charges of any illness on the market,” emphasised Dr. Karen Ehnert, director of veterinary public well being for the county.

Of the seven rabid bats discovered this 12 months, 4 have been within the Santa Clarita space, and one every in Glendale, Altadena and Los Feliz, county well being officers reported final week.

Most have been in backyards or on the surface wall of a home. The rabid bat within the Los Feliz space was alive within the frequent space of an condo advanced.

A chew from a rabid bat, even a slight puncture from the bat’s sharp, needle-like enamel, can transmit the Rhabdovirus, which causes extreme zoonotic encephalitis. It will possibly take per week and even years to provide signs, akin to headache, fever, chills, cough or sore throat, nausea, vomiting and malaise. If not handled earlier than signs manifest, it’s often too late, Ehnert stated.

No human rabies instances have been reported in L.A. County for a least a decade. The final case was a Central American immigrant who was bitten by a canine in his dwelling nation, she stated. Solely about 1% of the wild bats in nature have rabies. However 15% of bats discovered close to folks and pets in L.A. County take a look at constructive for rabies, county well being reported.

Rabid bats are discovered yearly in Los Angeles County and the numbers have skyrocketed for the previous two years.

In 2021, the county well being division discovered 68 rabid bats, the best quantity found within the county since testing of bats for rabies started in 1961. L.A. County had the best variety of any county within the state, and Orange County was second with 17 rabid bats.

The variety of rabid bats in L.A. County dropped barely, to 50 in 2022. However that quantity remains to be means above 15 years in the past when there have been about eight or 12 contaminated bats, Ehnert stated.

A bat discovered Jan. 4 in Rancho Cucamonga has examined constructive for the rabies virus. The picture exhibits a useless bat in an unrelated case being ready for a necropsy at a Riverside County public well being lab in June 2016. (Terry Pierson, employees photographer)