File photo by Wendy Langhans
Two more rabid bats turned up in Santa Clarita in May and June, bringing to three the total number of infected bats identified locally so far this year.
It’s early. Rabid bat season is just starting.
Over the past three years, the Santa Clarita Valley has had the highest concentration of rabid bats in Los Angeles County, and rabies is on the rise. Public health officials don’t know why. In a “normal” year (since data were first collected in the early 1960s), just eight to 10 rabies cases are reported throughout the whole county.
So far this season, nine rabid bats have been found in L.A. County, including the three (one-third) in the Santa Clarita Valley. That’s consistent with 2012, when roughly one-third (17 of 56) were found in the SCV. More than one-third (15 of 38) were found locally in 2011.
The county Health Department numbers the cases chronologically. No. 6 of 2013 was found dead outside of a Stevenson Ranch home in May. Later that month, No. 7 was found alive outside a Santa Clarita home, and then in June, No. 8 was found dead in a Santa Clarita backyard. (No. 9 was found in Palmdale.)
Bats are always the likeliest carriers of rabies, but far fewer than 1 percent of all bats have rabies.
That said, if you see a bat flying in daylight, or bothering the family pet – or taking a keen interest in its food bowl – or clinging to a wall during the day, or flopping around on the ground, or dead, don’t touch it. Instead call Animal Control and let the professionals deal with it.
If you’re bitten – it’s rare, but it did happen last year in Acton – call 9-1-1 and get medical treatment immediately. It’s not as painful as it was in the old days.
And vaccinate your pets. If Animal Control thinks your pet has been bitten, it could be quarantined for six months. The proper shots will cut the detention time to 30 days of house arrest.