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A rabid bat was found at an Irvine park, and health officials are warning the public

A rabid bat was found at an Irvine park, and health officials are warning the public
A big brown bat flies with a beetle in its mouth in this undated photo. (Merlin D. Tuttle / Associated Press)

Orange County health officials are looking for people who may have come into contact with a bat at a park in Irvine that tested positive for rabies over the weekend.

The bat was found Saturday on a picnic bench near a restroom at William Mason Regional Park, according to Orange County Health Care Agency officials. They say the animal has tested positive for rabies and anyone who may have come into contact with it is at risk of being infected with the virus.

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The virus is found in an animal's saliva and is transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal, health officials said in a statement.

"Although very rare, contamination of the eyes, mouth or an open wound by the saliva of a rabid animal can also transmit rabies," the statement read in part.

Officials said once a person begins to show signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal.

"For that reason preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies," the statement read.

Anyone who may have had contact with the bat found in the park is urged to call the health agency's epidemiology department at (714) 834-8180 during business hours, or at (714) 834-7792 after hours.

For more Southern California news, follow @latvives on Twitter.

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