World Rabies Day seems like a good time to remind Santa Clarita Valley residents not to touch a bat.
Sounds weird, but we’ve got a lot of rabid bats around here. Fully half of the rabid bats found so far this year in L.A. County have been found in the Santa Clarita Valley, even though our valley sports less than 3 percent of the county’s human population.
Rabies cases in L.A. County have been on the rise the past five years, and public health officials don’t know why. Almost all cases involve bats.
The trouble comes when Fido finds one and carries it around it his mouth, and then Fido’s human master tries to wrestle it away.
There haven’t been any human cases of rabies reported out of the Santa Clarita Valley the past few years, but there have been some close calls – like the time an infected bat fell out of a tree in Acton a couple of years ago and landed on someone’s shoulder. Creepy.
So just remember, if you see a bat flying around during the daytime or flopping around on the ground or bothering the family pet or expressing a keen interest in Fido or Fifi’s food dish or clinging to the side of your barn – the outside of your barn – in daylight – or if it’s dead … don’t touch the darned thing. Instead call Animal Control and let them touch it. They’re trained professionals.
Scroll down to see the list of rabid bats found in L.A. County this year.
And now for a scary message from the Centers for Disease Control…
Every 9 Minutes, Someone in the World Dies of Rabies
[CDC, Sept. 29] – A human death from rabies is a tragic but rare thing in the United States and most developed nations. It’s just as tragic but sadly common in parts of the world where some 3 billion people are at risk of being bitten by a rabid dog. More than 59,000 people die of rabies each year because they cannot get the care they need. That’s about 1 person dying of rabies every 9 minutes.
Most of these deaths are in Africa and Asia, and nearly half of the victims are children under the age of 15. Many of these lives can be saved if bite victims and healthcare providers know what to do and have what they need —rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin.
“Measures to prevent rabies in people are simple: wash the wound right after you are bitten and get follow-up care and vaccination immediately,” said Ryan Wallace, veterinary epidemiologist with CDC. “However, the primary method of prevention, and the more cost-effective intervention in the fight against rabies, is vaccination of domestic pets, particularly dogs.”
Today is World Rabies Day, an opportunity for people around the world to learn more about the impact that rabies has on people and animals and what each of us can do to put the world on the path toward eliminating rabies. This year’s theme is End Rabies Together, which challenges individuals and organizations to pull together to end the needless suffering and deaths caused by this preventable disease.
The fact that so few people in the United States and other developed nations get rabies shows that the disease can be controlled. Canine rabies has been eliminated in the United States, thanks to routine dog vaccinations and licensing and better control of stray dogs. Since the control of canine rabies in the United States, it has now been recognized that numerous wild animals can be infected with this disease. For that reason, people still must remain aware of the risk of rabies and seek medical care when exposed to wildlife and unusually acting animals.
To combat rabies, CDC works with many partners, including the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), World Health Organization, Humane Society International, National Association of Public Health Veterinarians, and American Veterinary Medical Association. Together, these partners have made great strides toward eliminating rabies in countries hard hit by rabies.
For example, in Ethiopia, which has reported some of the highest rates of human and animal rabies deaths in the world, a project is under way to control canine rabies through activities such as education, mass dog vaccination clinics, spay-neuter campaigns, establishment of new laboratories to diagnose rabies in dogs, and training to show veterinarians how to safely capture and humanely euthanize dogs suspected of having rabies. CDC and partners are working together to establish the first rabies-free zone in Ethiopia and ultimately end canine rabies in this country.
Progress is also being made in Haiti, one of the last remaining countries in the Americas where rabies infection in dogs is common and many people do not know what to do after they are bitten by a dog. Free-roaming dogs and a shortage of rabies vaccine are also problems in some areas of the country. The key to preventing rabies deaths is educating people about rabies and controlling canine rabies by testing and vaccinating dogs. Earlier this month, Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Public Health worked with CDC and partners to hold rabies control workshops in collaboration with U.S. Army veterinarians as part of the USNS Comfort’s scheduled stop at Port-au-Prince. The workshops’ intent was to raise awareness about rabies, establish a national rabies task force, enhance teachers’ roles in preventing rabies among children, and provide rabies education certification for veterinary professionals. During the USNS Comfort’s visit in Haiti, CDC and partners vaccinated about 500 dogs against rabies. The Ministry of Health plans to vaccinate 80,000 dogs over the next few weeks.
This year’s World Rabies Day theme, End Rabies Together, encourages individuals, businesses, and organizations around the world to work together to end rabies deaths.
So far in 2015, 31 rabid bats have been found in Los Angeles County. Half of them were found in Santa Clarita.
- Sierra Madre. January. Bat found alive under a tree and behind a fence in secluded area of a business.
- Santa Clarita (Saugus). March. Dog carrying live bat it around in its mouth in yard. The dog’s rabies vaccination was up-to-date. The dog received a booster vaccination, and will be monitored for rabies for 30 days.
- Bell Gardens. March. Bat found alive hanging from eaves of a home.
- Los Angeles (Brentwood area). March. Bat found alive on ground in front yard. Vaccinated dogs in yard with bat will be observed for rabies for 30 days.
- Calabasas. March. Bat found in isolated area on second floor of an office complex.
- Palmdale. April. Bat found in outdoor patio area at a school. Children were indoors at the time, away from bat.
- Santa Clarita (Newhall). April. Bat found in bushes in front yard of a home.
- Altadena. April. Dog picked up rabid bat in mouth, carried it into house.
- Santa Clarita (Canyon Country).May. Bat found dead on walkway between two apartment complexes. Posters placed to advise residents.
- Santa Clarita (Saugus). June. Bat found dead in yard of a home.
- Calabasas June. Bat found alive in the yard of a home.
- Santa Clarita (Valencia). July. Bat found alive in backyard.
- Santa Clarita (Canyon Country). July. Bat found clinging to side of a building at a business.
- Santa Clarita (Saugus). July. Rabid bat found alive on ground in alley near a business.
- Santa Clarita (Stevenson Ranch). July. Bat found dead, on a front porch.
- Glendale. July. Bat found outdoors at a busy intersection.
- Whittier. July. Pet flew into a business, hit a window and fell to floor. Staff member covered it with a box and called animal control.
- Santa Clarita (Saugus). August. Two dogs stepped out back door of a home, person with them heard hissing sound. Found bat on ground near door. Both dogs potentially had direct contact, and will be quarantined at home and observed for rabies.
- Lakewood. August. Rabid bat found dead on a driveway.
- Santa Clarita (Valencia). August. Bat found alive, hanging on a garage door.
- Santa Clarita (Newhall). August. Bat flew into pool, and then crawled out and hung on nearby wall.
- Los Angeles (West Hills). August. Bat found alive on ground near entrance to a school. Adult removed bat and taken to wildlife rehabilitation facility.
- Santa Clarita (Valencia). August. Bat found alive on a second story patio outside of a business.
- Acton. August. Bat found dead just outside a home.
- Palmdale. August. Bat found alive, stick between screen door and sliding door of a home.
- Santa Clarita (Newhall). August. Bat found alive by hikers on a park trail.
- Los Angeles (Tarzana). August. Bat found outside of a medical facility. Bat was taken to a veterinary clinic, then to an animal shelter.
- Santa Clarita (Valencia). August. Bat alive, clinging to stucco above front door to a home.
- Santa Monica. August. Found alive under table in backyard of a home.
- Santa Clarita (Valencia). September. Bat found alive near front door of a home.
- Santa Clarita (Valencia). September. Live bat sitting on floor of a front porch for more than 48 hours. A vaccinated dog sniffed at the bat and possibly had close contact, will be quarantined and observed for rabies for 30 days..