A fourteenth rabid bat was found in Santa Clarita this week, and like several others found locally this year, it was recovered alive outside an elementary school.
It’s a sure-fire indicator that even disease-infested animals have heard how great the public education system is in Santa Clarita.
Data from the Los Angeles County Health Department show that in other parts of the county, bats dying from rabies are usually found near a car or a pool or a house. Heck, in Topanga earlier this year, one rabid bat slipped and fell into a fish pond.
Not in Santa Clarita. OK, there was the bat found in a Canyon Country condo complex earlier this year while being carried around in a dog’s mouth. It was an exception. Our rabid bats go to school. One local rabid bat even went to college. Or at least it went to the bathroom at a college.
Officials are befuddled. They don’t know why Santa Clarita’s rabid bats seem to be getting a better education than bats elsewhere. In fact, they don’t even know why rabies has hit its highest level in Los Angeles County since data were first collected in 1960 – much less why Santa Clarita is the county leader with 14 of the 37 rabid bats found countywide so far this year.
In a normal year, only eight to 10 are found throughout the entire county.
All kidding aside, rabies can kill you, so it’s best not to touch a bat. Or a squirrel. Or a raccoon. Why would you touch a raccoon, anyway?
It’s a good rule of thumb not to touch any vector. Our well-schooled bats probably know a vector is any arthropod, insect, rodent or mammal that can transmit diseases to humans.
They also know they’re mammals (not rodents, thank you), and that they don’t really suck people’s blood. But they do bite.
Bats flying around in daylight, and bats found floundering on the ground – or in a fish pond – are likelier than others to carry the rabies virus. If you see one under these conditions, call animal control and keep a safe distance. You might not even know you’ve been bitten because the bites are small. If there’s a chance you’ve come into contact with a bat, call 911.