Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 10/27/2004
Subject: Rabies Detected in Two Bats on the HSU Campus
Contact: Brent Whitener, Vector Control Officer, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 268-2203 or 445-6215

The Department of Health and Human Services is urging the public to use caution with sick or injured bats. Two bats from the Humboldt State University campus area have tested positive for rabies within the past two weeks. A bat found at the HSU Library and tested last week was found to be positive for the presence of the virus. Another bat that was found outdoors two weeks ago was handled by several Humboldt State students in an attempt to see if they could revive it. This bat was also positive, and the students required the rabies post-exposure vaccination series as a result of handling the animal.

Everyone is reminded that rabies is present in Humboldt County wildlife, especially skunks, bats, and sometimes foxes. Skunks and bats are the reservoirs for rabies in California. Rabies can often cause paralysis or lethargy in an infected animal. This can lead to a bat falling to the ground. A person finding a bat on the ground or brought to them by a pet such as a dog or cat must realize that this bat has a far greater risk of rabies than a bat exhibiting normal, healthy behavior.

Although rabies is endemic (present) in our wildlife, several basic steps can safeguard against exposure, including:

 Avoiding contact with wild and stray animals. Teach children not to touch an animal they find, and to immediately report it to a parent or other adult.

 Vaccinate domestic animals, especially dogs and cats. Dog vaccinations for rabies are a legal requirement in Humboldt County. Vaccination acts as a firewall of protection in the event the pet comes in contact with a wild or feral animal. Inquire of your local veterinarians about their schedules offering low-cost rabies shot clinics for pets.

 Limit feeding pets outdoors, and in all cases remove any pet food remaining outside after nightfall. Raccoon, opossum, skunk and fox are attracted to our homes when pet food is left available. Do not feed these animals; this greatly increases the chances of exposure to rabies from a wild animal.

Report any unusual encounters with wildlife, feral animals, or animal bites to the local law enforcement where you live. For Humboldt State University, reports should be made to the campus police.

In the event of a bite, immediately wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention from your physician, medical care provider, or emergency room without delay.

Questions about rabies may be directed to Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division, by calling (707) 445-6215 or toll free at 1-800-963-9241.


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