Mexican free-tailed bat, like those in SCV | Courtesy Evelyne Vandersande
The latest rabid bat to turn up in Los Angeles County was found outside somebody’s home in Santa Clarita. It was still alive. It’s probably dead now.
That brings to 13 the number of rabid bats identified so far this year in the SCV – 40 percent of the total of 32 rabid bats found throughout Los Angeles County in 2013.
Rabies cases have been on the rise the last four years, and county Public Health officials don’t know why. In an “normal” year (statistics have been kept since the 1960s), only 8 to 12 are found countywide.
Considering that the Santa Clarita Valley supports less than 3 percent of the human population, hosting 40 percent of its rabid bats seems disproportionate until you figure that it probably really doesn’t. Much of the north county is forest, and there aren’t a whole lot of people living in the Angeles National Forest to report sick and dying bats.
That’s what public health officials say to do. If you see a bat flying during daytime, or flopping around on the ground, or attacking the dog dish, or dead, call Animal Control. Don’t touch it (duh).
Bats are the most common carriers of rabies, but fewer than 1 percent of bats have rabies.
It’s rare for a rabid bat to bite a human – although it did happen last year when a sick and dying bat fell out of a tree in Acton and landed on a person sitting under the tree and bit him or her in the shoulder. Talk about freaky.
Dogs and cats are more likely to get bitten because they’re theoretically not as smart as humans. Cats bat them around and dogs carry them around in their mouths. It happens every year at least once or twice in Santa Clarita, like in Canyon Country in August when a cat played with a dead rabid bat on a back patio, and in Saugus in July when a dog was seen carrying one around.
That’s why it’s important to keep up on your pet’s vaccinations. If Animal Control officials determine your pet’s shots aren’t current and they suspect Fido or Fifi has been exposed, you can say goodbye for up to six months of quarantine time. Keep current and it’s just 30 days of house arrest.