Rabid bat found at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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(County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency)

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — A bat that was found dead at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has tested positive for rabies, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency said Friday.

The bat was found dead at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday on a public walkway outside the park’s Hidden Jungle exhibit, between the Gorilla Forest and African Woods, the agency said in a statement. The bat had been seen alive elsewhere in the park three hours earlier.

Trained park staff collected the dead bat without directly touching it, and no human or animal contact was reported.

The bat was not one of the park’s collection animals.

The carcass was delivered to the county health lab Thursday and subsequent testing confirmed it had rabies.

County health officials said anyone in the park who directly handled the rabid bat should contact them at 619-692-8499.

“Human rabies is usually fatal without prompt post-exposure vaccine and treatment,” said county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten. “There has been no reported human or animal contact with this bat, but it was found in an area where many park visitors pass by, and we want to make sure that no one had contact with it.”

A person can only be at risk for rabies if they’ve touched or held an infected animal. Rabies transmission can also occur from a bat bite, or if saliva from a bat comes in contact with a cut or an abrasion, or with mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose or mouth.

Rabies in humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with wild, stray and unknown animals, and by ensuring pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

Any person exposed to a rabid animal should wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical advice immediately.

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