A live bat recently found in front of a Seal Beach department store tested positive for rabies, making it the fifth rabid bat found in Orange County in the past month, health officials said Thursday.
The bat was found about 8 p.m. Sunday in front of Kohl's, 12345 Seal Beach Blvd.
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Anyone who may have had physical contact with any of the bats or saw someone else having contact was asked to call the health agency's Communicable Disease Control Division at 714-834-8180, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or 714-834-7792 after hours to determine the risk for rabies.
Owners of pets who may have had contact with the bats should contact their veterinarian.
The rabies virus is found in an animal's saliva and is transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal. Although very rare, contamination of the eyes, mouth or an open wound by the saliva of a rabid animal can also transmit rabies.
Most cases of human rabies in the United States in recent years have resulted from bat strains of rabies. Because bats have very small teeth, their bites may go unnoticed.
Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal, which is why preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed. Doctors say medical assistance should be obtained promptly after an exposure so any wound can be cleaned and preventive treatment can be started.
More information about rabies is available at the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/rabies.