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"If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it," said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.
By Cassia Pollock

A bat like this one was found at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park near the Oasis Deli in Nairobi Village. Source: San Diego County News Center

April 18, 2017 (San Diego) - A bat caught alive at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has tested positive for rabies, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency announced Monday.

County officials are urging anyone who may have touched the bat to contact County Health officials as soon as possible at (619)692-8499.

On Apr. 15 at about 3 p.m., trained park staff captured the bat near the Oasis Deli in Nairobi Village. According to County officials, it was a wild bat not obtained as part of the park's animal collection.

"Although the bat was found in an area where many park visitors pass by, there has been no reported human or animal contact with it," said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement.       

At this point in time, no human or animal has reportedly been exposed to the bat, said County officials.

"We want to be sure that no one had contact with the bat because human rabies is usually fatal without prompt post-exposure vaccine and treatment," said Wooten.

If anyone touched or held the rabies-infested bat, this should raise alarm bells. Unless someone physically touched the bat or held it, there is no risk of contracting rabies, said County officials.

"People should always stay away from bats and other wild animals to prevent possible exposure to rabies," said Wooten. "If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it."

Last summer, two other bats were also discovered in this same location in the Safari Park that tested positive for rabies. Nobody appeared to have been exposed at that time.

It's possible for rabies to be transmitted through a bat bite, or if a bat's saliva comes in contact with a cut or the eyes, nose or mouth. The best way to prevent rabies is to avoid contact with wild and stray animals, said County officials. Also, make sure any domestic pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.

Bats are the most common animal to be tested positive for rabies in San Diego County.

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