Rabid bat found in Fountain Valley near pickleball courts

At the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, thousands of bats live under the bypass and come out at dusk.
A bat was recently found in Fountain Valley that tested positive for rabies. Above, bats that live under a bypass near Sacramento come out at dusk.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A bat found last week near the pickleball courts at the Fountain Valley Tennis Center tested positive for rabies, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The bat was found at about 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

County health officials are calling for residents to be alert and avoid contact with all bats, which are commonly identified every year in Orange County. In a news release issued Saturday, the agency asks those who may have had contact with the bat themselves — or saw someone else who did so — to call the Communicable Disease Control Division at (714) 834-8180 to determine the potential risk for rabies.

Pet owners should also talk to their veterinarians if their pets had contact with the animal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is a fatal but preventable disease. It is transmitted through direct contact — such as through broken skin or through the eyes, nose and mouth — with saliva or brain and nervous system tissue from the infected animal. People typically get rabies from being bitten.

A bat found at a parking lot located at Pickleball Court #1 at the Fountain Valley Tennis Center.
A bat found at a parking lot located at Pickleball Court #1 at the Fountain Valley Tennis Center in Fountain Valley, on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at around 10:30 a.m., has tested positive for rabies.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The county agency said most human cases of rabies are from bat strains of the virus. Because bats have small teeth, their bites might go unnoticed.

The virus attacks the central nervous system and can be treated if caught early enough after a potential exposure, but is almost always fatal when humans begin to show signs or symptoms.

Residents are encouraged to avoid contact with all wild animals, vaccinate their pets, and not sleep with open and unscreened windows or doors. Residents who see a bat indoors are asked to close off the area and contact local animal control to remove it, officials said.

People should also avoid leaving pet food outside for wild animals, immediately wash all animal bites with soap and water and report all animal bites and stray animals to OC Animal Care.

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