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Rabid bats on the rise in Los Angeles County this year

November 17, 2010 |  2:09 pm

Bat

Due to an unusually high number of rabid bats found in Los Angeles County this year, public health officials are asking all residents to avoid touching any wild animals and to make sure their pets have up-to-date vaccinations.

Officials do not know why 21 rabid bats have been detected in 2010 so far when the past annual average is 10. But they are issuing the warning because most of these wild animals have been found in and around residential homes. One person was bitten while attempting to rehabilitate a sick bat.

Rabies is a serious viral illness that affects the central nervous system and could cause brain disease and death.

"Make sure that children know to leave bats and other wildlife alone and keep pets away from wild animals," the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a statement. "If you see a sick bat or other sick animal, contact your local animal control agency."

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-- Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: The eastern pipistrelle bat, a species frequently linked with human rabies cases. Credit: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

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