The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is warning visitors who may have come in contact with a bat while at an outdoor Malibu area restaurant to see a doctor for possible exposure to rabies, a fatal neurological disease.
Public health officials were notified that a bat flew into a dining area at the Malibu Café at Calamigos Ranch and one person and possibly more handled the bat, which came in proximity of a group of children, the agency reported.
The incident took place Saturday, June 4. Authorities are asking anyone who may have handled or touched the bat to see a doctor and get evaluated for post-rabies treatment, said Dr. Sharon Balter, director of communicable disease and prevention for the county DPH.
The agency is asking that parents who were eating at the restaurant to ask their children if they touched the bat and examine them for bite marks. Often children may not be aware they were bitten. A bat’s teeth are small and can leave an insignificant bite or scratch that can go unnoticed, even among adults, the agency reported.
So far, the agency has not heard of anyone contracting rabies from the bat, Balter said on Monday. But the agency is acting “out of an abundance of caution” to get word out to diners at the rustic and upscale restaurant and wedding venue located off Kanan Road in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“There was a bat” Balter said. “We received definitive confirmation of one person who handled the bat and may have handed it to other people. Plus, there were children there. If they did handle the bat they should contact their health provider.”
The county agency does not have possession of the bat so it could not be tested for rabies. In 2021, 68 rabid bats were found in Los Angeles County, the highest recorded number in L.A. County since testing of bats for rabies began in 1961, according to the DPH.
How common are bats with rabies? More common than people think. Most people think dogs carry rabies but bats are quite often the main carriers of the virus that causes the disease, and they do not show symptoms, Balter said.
The department considers any person in contact with a wild bat at “high-risk exposure to rabies.” Rabies is preventable with vaccination shots after exposure but is fatal if treatment is not started before symptoms appear. Initially, people infected get fever, weakness and headache — and that can progress to a tingling sensation, anxiety, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing, coma and death.
Potential Rabies Exposure at Malibu Café/Calamigos Ranch – Anyone who came in contact with a bat at this site should call their doctor for an evaluation. For more information, visit https://t.co/kn51jk3jwm pic.twitter.com/GJrHDjfqK1
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 225 cases of animals with rabies in California in 2018, 193 were from bats, while skunks were a distant second at 28, followed by three foxes and one raccoon.
Bats are like birds and they migrate. In summer or when the weather gets warmer, they are more active in Southern California. Rabid bats recently have been found in San Bernardino County.
“We are definitely in the season where we get a lot of calls about bats,” Balter said. “And we do see rabies. But we haven’t had any human cases in many years.”
She warns people not to pick up sick or dead bats or handle them at all. Instead, contact the local animal control agency for removal. “This is a reminder to people that bats carry rabies. We should stay away from bats and not handle them.”
We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.
source: LA Daily News