For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Janet Berreman, MD, Health Officer, (510) 981-5300

INFECTED BAT A REMINDER TO USE CAUTION

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, October 23, 2013) - A bat infected with rabies was recently found in the area of the 1500 block of Spruce Street in the City of Berkeley. Although the bat was removed without incident, residents in Berkeley and the surrounding areas are advised that Alameda County has been a “Rabies Area” since 1958.

In Berkeley, bats and skunks are the most likely animals to be infected, although unimmunized dogs, foxes, coyotes, badgers, weasels, raccoons and unvaccinated cats can also carry the rabies virus.

Rabies infection is virtually always fatal in man so it is critical that people know how to prevent infection. Avoid skunks and bats and do not handle dead wild animals.

Educate your children about the dangers of wild animals and warn them not to touch any animal they do not know.

Any nocturnal animal which is seen during daylight hours such as skunks, bats, or grey foxes should be considered dangerous.

Call Berkeley Animal Control Services at (510) 981-6600, Monday-Sunday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., if suspicious or dead animals are observed in your area. For after-hours emergencies contact Dispatch at (510) 981-5900.

RABIES FACTS AND PROTECTIVE MEASURES

• Rabies is found in most counties in California including Alameda County. Alameda County has been declared a "Rabies Area" since 1958.

• Rabies is a deadly virus disease which affects the nervous system. Once symptoms start in an infected human being it is uniformly fatal. There is no known cure.In the event of contact with an animal which might have rabies, prompt medical attention including administration of immunization can prevent disease.  It is essential that anyone exposed to a potentially infected animal seek medical care immediately.

• Rabies is transmitted in the saliva of infected warm blooded animals (mammals) through mucous membranes or any break in the skin by biting, licking or scratching.

• Animals at high risk for carrying rabies are skunks, bats, dogs which have not been vaccinated against rabies, foxes, coyotes, badgers, weasels, raccoons, and wild and unvaccinated domestic cats. Rodents (gophers, mice, hamsters, squirrels, rats, opossums, guinea pigs) and rabbits are considered very low risk for rabies.

• The degree of risk to humans and pets for rabies is determined by the species of the animal and the circumstances. There is no risk for rabies from reptiles, birds, or insects.

• If a wild animal such as a skunk, bat, or grey fox which is normally nocturnal (active at night) is seen in the daylight acting in a strange manner, it may be tested for rabies by the State Health Laboratory. Example of animals to be tested:

  • A skunk roaming or staggering in daylight.
  • A bat hanging on a window screen or sill.
  • A grey fox acting in an aggressive manner in the daytime.

• Immediately call the City of Berkeley Animal Control Services at (510) 981-6600 regarding strange acting animals.

• The following are protective measures that are necessary to prevent rabies in humans and domestic animals.

  • Have dog(s) and cat(s) vaccinated against rabies. Vaccination and Licensing is required for all dogs 4 months of age and older. Dogs which are first vaccinated at one year of age or less must be revaccinated one year later. The interval for revaccination is three (3) years for older dogs.
  • Confine dogs to property especially puppies less than four (4) months of age since they are not protected against rabies. Otherwise, if a dog is taken off the premises it must be on a leash.
  • Report any animal bites of humans or any close contact between dogs or cats with skunks or bats or other wild animals to the City of Berkeley Animal Control Services at (510) 981-6600.
  • Avoid wild animals or domestic animals which are strays or which run loose. Do not feed wild animals by hand. It is dangerous to attempt to feed, pet, or care for sick or injured animals.
  • Do not attract skunks or raccoons with food! They will eat garbage, fruit, vegetables, and especially dog and cat food. Pet food left outside is a strong invitation to wildlife. Keep garbage cans covered with tight fitting lids.
  • Do not provide shelter for skunks and other wild animals. Close all openings under your home and other buildings. Keep foundation vent screens in good repair. Eliminated piles of trash, rocks, wood, hollow logs, heavy growth of vegetation and other possible hiding places.
  • Do not provide shelter for bats. Close, seal, or screen all openings so there is none greater than 1/4" in size especially at roof level. Install 1/4" screen on attic vents and maintain in good repair.

If you require information regarding wild animals such as bats or skunks, please call the City of Berkeley Animal Control Services at (510) 981-6600, Monday through Sunday or Vector Control Services at (510) 981-5310, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For after-hours emergencies, contact Dispatch at (510) 981-5900.

 

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