California

Bat with rabies found at Santa Barbara Zoo, and now the giraffes are quarantined

A bat with rabies was recently found in the giraffe barn at the Santa Barbara Zoo, according to a news release from the zoo.

Zoo officials said the bat tested positive for rabies on May 17. There’s no public health risk, but zoo officials will close the giraffe feeding deck for 30 days as a precaution, the news release said.

“The likelihood of the giraffes having been bitten is very low, but public health protocols require no contact with the public to ensure there is no risk,” the zoo said in a fact sheet about the incident.

The giraffes have been placed on a quarantine, which means only vaccinated staff will work with them during that time. The giraffes will still be on exhibit during their quarantine, the zoo said.

“We have enforced all safety protocols, including making sure rabies immunizations for all of our mammals are up to date,” the zoo said in the release.

The zoo said rabies circulates in local wildlife populations, and they work with local officials to monitor any diseases that could transfer from animals to humans.

“The potential to come across a rabies-positive wild animal exists not only at the zoo but everywhere: at home, while hiking, etc.,” Dr. Julie Barnes, the zoo’s vice president of animal care and health, said in the release.

The Public Health Department advised people not to approach or handle wild animals and asked anyone who sees a dead bat to stay away from it and call Santa Barbara County Animal Services at 805-681-5285.

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