A bat found at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has tested positive for rabies, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency reported today.
The bat was found alive on the ground on Friday, Sept. 9 at 12:37 p.m. near the entrance doors to the Oasis Deli in Nairobi Village. Trained park staff collected the bat without directly touching it and no human or animal contact has been reported. The bat, which was not one of the park’s collection animals, was delivered to the County over the weekend and testing confirmed the animal had rabies. Rabid bats were also found at this location on June 11 and July 10.
County health officials would like to know if anyone who was in the park on Friday, Sept. 9 directly handled the rabid bat. If you or someone in your family or group had contact with the bat, you are urged to contact the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency at (619) 692-8499. If you did not have direct contact with the bat, such as touching or holding the animal, you are not at risk for rabies.
“Human rabies is nearly always fatal without prompt post-exposure vaccine and treatment,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “While no direct human or animal contact with this bat has been reported, it was found in an area where some park visitors pass by, and we want to be sure that no one had contact with it.”
Rabies transmission can occur from a bat bite or if a bat’s saliva comes in contact with a cut or abrasion, or with a person’s mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose or mouth.
“People should always stay away from bats and other wild animals to prevent possible exposure to rabies,” Wooten said. “If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it.”
Rabies in humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with wild, stray, and unknown domestic animals, ensuring pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations, and receiving prompt medical advice following animal bites and other significant exposures to potentially rabid animals. Rabies is not uncommon in wild bats in San Diego County.
If direct contact with a bat does occur, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and get medical advice immediately.