Rabid bat is discovered

A California brown bat found at a West Newport housing complex last

week tested positive for rabies, Sgt. Bill Hartford of the Newport

Beach Police announced Wednesday.

No one has reported being bitten by the rabid animal, Hartford

said. As a precaution, parents whose children were near the housing

complex at 62nd Street and Prospect Street should ask them if they

came in contact with the bat, Hartford said.

It's not unusual for a bat found in an urban area to test positive

for the virus, said Howard Sutter, a spokesman for Orange County

Health Agency.

"The bats that people come in contact with in urban areas are

often sick," said Hildy Meyers, medical director of epidemiology at

the health agency.

Six bats in Orange County tested positive for rabies in 2004 and

five bats have tested positive this year, Sutter said.

Bats and skunks are the animals that most commonly test positive

for rabies in Orange County, Meyers said.

Not everyone bitten by a rabid animal will contract the deadly

virus, Meyers said.

However, if the individual's immune system cannot fight off the

virus and no treatment is given, there is almost no chance of

survival, Meyers said.

Bats have small teeth and it is possible to have been bitten and

not know it, Meyers added.

The symptoms of rabies -- tingling in the bite area, general

confusion and the fear of water -- do not develop quickly, Meyers


If someone has been bitten, he or she should clean the area with

water and immediately seek medical help, Meyers said. Anyone who has

been exposed to rabies can seek preventive treatment -- a series of

shots over the course of one month.

A resident of the Newport Shores housing community called the

city's animal control office when the bat was spotted the morning of

July 28 on a fence in the basketball court area.

"It's unusual for the bat to be out at that time of the day,"

Hartford said.

Animal control took the bat to an Orange County Health Agency lab

where the brain was examined and the animal was found to be infected

with rabies.

Those who think they may have been bitten should contact the

county health agency at (714) 834-8180.

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