Rabid Bats A Growing Concern in Santa Clara County | NBC Bay Area

Rabid Bats A Growing Concern in Santa Clara County



    (Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013)

    The South Bay is being besieged by bats.

    Santa Clara County is reporting an increase in the number of rabid bats, and they’re being found near some family-friendly locations.

    Less than two weeks ago, someone made a frightening discovery near Los Gatos: a rabid bat. In April, another rabid bat was discovered along the Los Gatos Creek Trail.

    “There’s a lot of families and school-age children who are out here, so I’m concerned about them,” Los Gatos resident Randy Hahn said.

    So far this year, Santa Clara County is reporting the most rabid bats in five years. Five bats have been found since April. Compare that to three for all of last year and two cases the year before.

    The sick bats aren’t just hanging out under the trees, they’ve also been found in high tech headquarters. On May 16, a rabid bat was discovered on the Google campus in Mountain View.

    In Santa Clara County the rabid bats have not hurt anyone. But that wasn’t the case in the East Bay. Earlier this month, a 16-year-old volunteer at the Oakland Zoo was bitten by a rabid bat. The infected animal was not one of the fruit bats on display at the zoo, but a bat that had flown onto zoo grounds.

    The Oakland teen was treated and is expected to make a full recovery.  That was the third rabid bat found in the East Bay in the past month.

    At the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Dr. Sara Cody says there are some clear warning signs.

    “Bats are usually active at night  and fly high in the sky,” Dr. Cody said. “So if you  see a bat out in the day, or flying low to the ground, that’s not normal. Stay clear of that bat.”

    Dr. Cody says, too often, curiosity prevails over common sense

    “The other thing to know is not to try to handle the bat,” she said. “Call Animal Control.”

    Bats love to chow down on insects and can be instrumental in helping to fight the West Nile virus. But public health leaders say you should never forget they can also carry a deadly disease.