A rabid bat was found in central Camarillo on Wednesday, the second rabid bat identified in Ventura County in less than a week, county health officials reported.
Although human cases of rabies are rare, the disease is almost always fatal, health officials said.
"If you don't get immunized right after contact, you could die," said public health nurse Diane Seyl. "If you develop the disease you could die, because, at that point, there is no treatment for it."
In addition to the dead bat found in Camarillo on Wednesday, the carcass of a diseased bat was found in an east Ventura neighborhood last Thursday.
"For our county this is not unusual--we are endemic for bats, and occasionally, some fall out that are rabid and die and somebody finds them," Seyl said. "It's just important for the public to know to call Animal Regulation when that happens and not to touch them or let children or animals near them."
After Ventura County Animal Regulation officials pick up bats, they are immediately tested for rabies, she said.
"Some years we have lots and other years we don't have any," Seyl said. "I've never found any rhyme or reason to it."
Public health officials warn that rabies can be transmitted through bites and other exposures, including scratches, abrasions or contamination of open wounds or mucous membranes.
They recommend that wild or domesticated animals behaving oddly not be touched because it could result in contact with infected saliva or with potentially infectious tissues.
Locally, skunks and bats are the most likely sources of human rabies cases. Rodents, rabbits, hares and opossums are almost never found to be rabid.
In case of contact with an animal suspected of having rabies, health officials say:
* Meticulously wash the wound immediately with soap and water.
* Contact your health care provider for advice or treatment.
To prevent exposure:
* Report stray dogs and cats in your neighborhood to the Ventura County Animal Regulation Department at 388-4341.
* Do not handle or pick up any animal that is dead, sick or acting strangely. Try to isolate the animal until Animal Regulation officials can pick it up.
* Have your dogs and cats vaccinated.
* Keep your pets at home--do not allow them to roam, especially at night.