A rabies-infected bat was found on the grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano and officials Saturday sought anyone who had contact with it or saw someone come into contact with it.
The bat was located Thursday about 12:15 p.m., according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The rabies virus is found in an animal’s saliva and is transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal. Bats have small teeth and their bites may go unnoticed, the agency said.
“Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal,” the agency said in a statement. “For that reason, preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies.”
The OCHCA and Orange County Animal Care recommended the following steps to minimize the risk of rabies:
— 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 or bats 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 or bats found in a home or workplace to your local animal control agency.
Anyone who made contact with the bat or witnessed others who made contact with it was asked to call the OC Health Care Agency Communicable Disease Control Division at 714-834-8180 or after hours at 714-834-7792. Owners of pets who may have had contact with this rabid animal should contact their veterinarian.
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