Anyone who came in contact with a bat at a campground in the Auburn State Recreation Area from Aug. 1 to 3 is being advised to seek immediate medical attention due to possible rabies exposure, according to state park and public health officials.
During that period, a visitor at the Mineral Bar Campground found a bat and allowed other visitors, including children, to touch the animal, according to a press release from the California State Parks and California Department of Public Health. The bat was later taken to animal control, where it tested positive for rabies.
“We’ve been in contact with several park visitors who handled the infected bat and they are already seeking treatment,” said Mike Howard, Auburn State Recreation Area sector superintendent for state parks.
Biologists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have surveyed the area and found no other infected animals, the press release said, and the campground remains open to the public.
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Rabies is a virus that can be transmitted from animal to human via saliva, usually through a bite, the press release said. Symptoms in infected animals, which develop after a few weeks or months, include paralysis, abnormal behavior and increased aggression.
In 2017, there were 231 cases of animals with rabies reported in California, with bats and skunks typically deemed the main carriers of the rabies virus in California, the press release said. Thirty-eight instances of humans contracting rabies were reported in the United States between 2003 and 2015, with 57 percent of those cases being transmitted by bats.
To reduce the risk of rabies to you and your family while visiting state parks:
- Do not approach or handle wild or unfamiliar animals.
- Avoid animals appearing sick or injured.
- Report any animal that is acting abnormally to park officials.
- Keep pets confined or on a leash. Work with your veterinarian to keep pets current on their vaccinations.
- If bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water, and contact your doctor. Report bites from wild or domestic animals to your local public health agency.
For more rabies information, visit here.