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November 19, 2010 > Rabid Bat Found in Fremont

Rabid Bat Found in Fremont

Submitted By Daniel Wilson, Alameda Co. Vector Control

An ill Mexican Free-Tailed bat found in the parking lot of Ohlone College in Fremont (11/7/2010), and subsequently delivered to San Francisco Health Department for testing. The bat tested positive for rabies antigen. The Tri-Cities Animal Shelter in Fremont, the Alameda County Public Health Department and Alameda County Vector Control were notified of the test results Wednesday afternoon (11/9/2010). This is the third bat (Livermore, Pleasanton, now Fremont) infected with rabies detected in Alameda County during 2010.

The person, who initially found the bat, and submitted it for testing stated he did not handle the bat, therefore did not require rabies post exposure treatment. Handling wild animals, especially animals that are acting strangely-seemingly ill, are potential high risk contacts for rabies transmission. Even if not bitten or scratched, contact with the saliva infected with the rabies virus can be acquired through skin abrasions or mucus membrane. For this reason any person(s) who had this contact should be seen by a physician and possibly begin anti-rabies post exposure treatment

Rabies is almost always fatal once the infection begins, but treatment can effectively halt the infection. The periodic discovery of rabid animals (mostly bats) in Alameda County reinforces the need to keep your pets rabies vaccination up-to-date, and contact your local animal control (Fremont Animal Services (510) 790-6630, or Vector Control (510) 567-6826, if you notice a suspicious situation involving wildlife, foxes, ferrets or cats and dogs. All mammals are potential victims of rabies, but in Alameda County, bats are the animals most commonly detected with rabies, followed by skunks. During 2010 we detected 3 bats (including this bat) infected with rabies and no other animals in Alameda County.

What is rabies and how is it transmitted?

Rabies is an acutely infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal. Any wild mammal, like a bat, skunk, or fox can have rabies and transmit it to people. It is also possible, but quite rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

Because rabies is a fatal disease, the goal of public health is first, to prevent human exposure to rabies by education and second, to prevent the disease by anti-rabies treatment if exposure occurs. Thousands of people are successfully treated each year after being bitten by an animal that may have rabies. A few people die of rabies each year in the United States, usually because they do not recognize the risk of rabies from the bite of a wild animal and do not promptly seek medical advice. Bat contact is one of the highest-risks for rabies, especially when people or their pets are exposed and think their incidental contact was so slight that there is not a problem.

Why should I know about rabies?

Rabies is a fatal disease if left untreated soon after the time of exposure. Rabies virus acquired from bats has caused most of the recent human rabies cases acquired in California. Awareness of the facts about rabies can help people protect themselves, their families and their pets. This information may also help clear up misunderstandings about the rabies risk in our area.

In California from 1997 to 2009, rabies has been detected in 3,380 animals, with 6 fatal human cases (4 acquired outside California and two acquired from bats in California). Bats are the leader with 2,060 detected with rabies, and skunks are slightly behind with 1,166. The next closest runner-up is the fox with 99, and followed by dogs (18) and cats (17). During this same time, period 103 rabid animals were detected in Alameda County (74 bats, 27 skunks, 1 fox, and one opossum). As of November 9th this year, 109 bats, 19 skunks, 4 foxes, 1 coyote, and one dog (a total of 134 animals) have been detected with rabies in California.

Alameda County is a "declared rabies area" and rabies vaccination is mandatory for dogs over 4 months old. Vaccination helps protect your pet, and reduce the rabies exposure potential to you, your family, and neighbors. If your dog or cat is involved in a bite to a human or other animal, state law mandates "rabies quarantine" (isolation from people or animals) for the biting animal (usually 10 days).

An unvaccinated dog, or cat that has contact with a biting animal that is subject to rabies, and that is not apprehended for quarantine or testing, will have to be vaccinated, and undergo six month quarantine. Vaccinated dogs or cats will have to be revaccinated, and monitored for 30 days in quarantine. For the above reasons, having up-to-date rabies vaccination is very important to you, your family, and your pet. Six month quarantine is a long time for a dog or cat to be isolated.

For specific local information in Fremont, contact Fremont Animal Services at: 510-790-6630.

For general information on rabies in Alameda County contact Daniel Wilson 510- 567-6826

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