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5th rabid bat found in SCV this year

Posted: July 31, 2013 4:36 p.m.
Updated: July 31, 2013 4:36 p.m.

The fifth rabid bat of 2013 has been found in the Santa Clarita Valley, Los Angeles County health department officials confirmed Wednesday.

The number means local instances of rabid bats now account for one-third of all cases in the county this year, officials said.

The 15th afflicted bat found in the county this year was discovered “weak but alive” in a driveway outside a Santa Clarita home, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

This is the second rabid bat found in the Santa Clarita Valley this month. One was found in the mouth of a dog in Saugus more than a week ago.

That dog was ordered quarantined and re-vaccinated, according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the director of public health and health officer for Los Angeles County.

Cases of rabies in bats tend to increase during warm summer months and have shown a general upward trend in recent years, the county’s acting director of veterinary public health, Dr. Karen Ehnert, told The Signal in an earlier interview.

Ehnert said the Santa Clarita Valley tends to have a high proportion of reported bat rabies cases because of its high bat population — a population attracted in part by the Santa Clara River, which provides both water and roosting areas in the form of bridges. They also like wavy Spanish-style roofs to roost under, she said.

Fifteen of the 38 rabid bats reported in 2011 and 17 of the 56 reported in 2012 were found in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to county records.

Bats that are infected with rabies tend to display peculiar behavior and are often seen on the ground or flying in daylight, according to Ehnert.

Residents are urged to stay away from bats displaying such behavior and to be sure all pets are properly immunized against the disease.

Ehnert said bats should never be touched or handled and that any resident who notices unusual bat behavior should contact the county Department of Animal Care and Control at 661-257-3191.
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