Health

Bat Found at Zoo Safari Park Tests Positive for Rabies

A bat found at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park earlier this month has tested positive for rabies, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency is reporting.

The County was notified today that the bat was found at the park alive on Oct. 9 around 5:30 p.m. in a public area by the Mombasa Pavilion. The bat was discovered by a patron and removed by park security without directly touching it and no human or animal contact has been reported.

County health officials are interested to know if anyone who was in the park on Oct. 9 directly handled the rabid bat. If you or someone in your family or group had contact with the bat, you are urged to contact the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency as soon as possible at (619) 692-8499. If you did not have direct contact with the bat, such as touching or holding the animal, you are not at risk for rabies.

“Human rabies is usually fatal unless the individual has prompt post-exposure vaccine and treatment,” said Sayone Thihalolipavan, M.D., M.P.H., County deputy public health officer. “In this incident, there has been no human or animal contact reported, but we want to be absolutely certain that no one had contact with it.”

Rabies transmission can occur from a bat bite or if a bat’s saliva comes in contact with a cut or abrasion, or with mucous membranes, such as the eyes, nose or mouth.

“If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it,” said Thihalolipavan. “People should avoid direct contact with bats and other wild animals to prevent possible exposure to rabies.”

Rabies in humans can be prevented by avoiding contact with wild, stray and unknown domestic animals, ensuring pets are up-to-date on rabies vaccinations, and receiving prompt medical advice following animal bites and other significant exposures to potentially rabid animals. Rabies is not uncommon in wild bats in San Diego County.

If direct contact with a bat does occur, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and get medical advice immediately.

For more information about rabies and bats, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact