Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Public Health Officials Seek Unidentified Man Who Handled Rabid Bat

***Media Inquiries: understandably, we're a little overloaded right now
at the media office. If you would like an interview on this specific
press release, please e-mail me with the same subject line (re:) or call
the media line at (213) 240-8144 and specify you'd like information on
the bat. Thank you, Sarah Kissell.***

For Immediate Release:
April 28, 2009

Health Officials Seek Unidentified Man Who Handled Rabid Bat
Bat was handled on April 21st, outside grocery story in Santa Clarita

LOS ANGELES - County health officials are seeking help from the
community in locating an adult man that handled a rabid bat in Santa
Clarita. The man may need to receive urgent rabies preventive treatment
if he handled the bat with his bare hands. He reportedly found the bat
in the parking lot of the Bristol Farms store in Santa Clarita on April
21, 2009, before bringing it to a local veterinary clinic. The man's
name and contact information were not recorded before he left the
clinic.

The man is described as white, in his 40s, between 5'8"and 6'
tall, with a mustache or goatee, driving a late 1990s model dark blue
Chevy Silverado pickup truck. The man stated that he had scooped up the
bat into the box, but it is unclear if he used his bare hands or not.
The man in question should immediately contact the Public Health Acute
Communicable Disease Control unit at (213) 240-7941.

"People think of rabies as a disease from the past, but cases still
occur and rabies can be fatal if it is not treated before symptoms
start. Therefore, it is vital that this citizen contact the Public
Health Department so we can determine if he needs to be treated," said
Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health
Officer. "Residents should not touch or handle bats, and seek medical
attention immediately if bitten or scratched. Pets should also be
vaccinated against rabies."

Two rabid bats have been detected in Los Angeles County so far this
year. On average about eight-to-twelve rabid bats are detected each
year. Direct exposure to a rabid animal, such as a bat, can lead to
transmission of rabies to humans. Rabies is most commonly spread through
the bite from an infected animal. The disease affects the central
nervous system and, if preventive treatment is not immediately given
after transmission from a rabid animal, is usually fatal.

Dead or trapped bats can be tested for rabies by contacting Veterinary
Public Health at 562-401-7088.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and
improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles
County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and
services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control,
and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000
employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more
about Public Health and the work we do, please visit
http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.

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