San Joaquin County health officials are urging residents to take precautions after a bat found in a residential home tested positive for the rabies virus.
It’s the first confirmed case of rabies in the county this year.
“This incident serves as a reminder that we must all take precautions to secure our homes and environment to reduce coming in contact with any stray, wild or unfamiliar animals,” San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Alvaro Garza wrote in a statement. “We also need to ensure that our pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.”
After being notified of the discovery public health services conducted an investigation and determined that the bat, which had come in contact with the family’s dog, was in fact rabid. All who came into contact with the dog and the bat have been receiving medical attention and advice. The dog is currently under quarantine and is being monitored.
San Joaquin County’s recent case is the 15th case of wild animal rabies reported in California this year – 11 of which have been traced back to bats. Last year of 178 cases, 150 of those were bat-related but it was a kitten that was discovered to be carrying the disease locally.
The following tips are suggested as a way to help keep family members and pets safe from infection:
• Make sure vaccinations for dogs, cats, horses and other domestic animals are up-to-date. The immunizations not only protect the pet in case an infected animal to bites it, but also helps protects the people that pets comes in contact with.
• Secure your home and environment. Make sure that holes in walls, roofs and floors are repaired and board up any openings to attics, porches or garages and install screens on doors, windows and chimneys. Avoid leaving pet food, birdseed or other food outside to discourage attracting wild animals, and secure garbage cans to discourage foraging.
• Supervise pets regularly – keeping family pets enclosed at night so that they don’t stray or come in contact with wild animals. Contact animal control to remove all stray animals that may be unvaccinated or ill.
• Avoid feeding, touching or adopting stray or wild animals. Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if they are bitten by an animal and watch for abnormal wild animal behavior. If you see an animal that is sick, injured, dead, orphaned or behaving oddly, leave it alone and contact animal control – do not try to handle the animal yourself.
• Report any bite or scratch between a person or domestic animal and a stray or wild animal to a city or animal control office and consult a health care provider or veterinarian for appropriate follow-up. If you’ve been bitten seek medical attention immediately and wash the exposure site thoroughly. Animal saliva can transmit rabies without a bite, so if comes in contact with your eyes, nose, mouth or an open would seek medical assistance.
The public is encouraged to take precautions as well as look out for unusual behavior in animals – typically the first sign of contraction of the disease. Odd behavior in animals like skunks, bats, raccoons and opossums may include being out during daylight hours as opposed to be out at night, and animals may become unusually aggressive or unusually tame. Rabid animals can appear to lose fear of people and natural enemies and come off unusually affectionate and friendly, although physical signs like staggering, convulsing, spitting, choking and frothing at the mouth are other symptoms that be visible.
For more information visit the California Department of Public Health’s rabies information page at www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/pages/rabies.aspx or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies.