Rabid bat prompts concern

July 23, 2008 2:23:14 PM PDT
Berkeley health officials are cautioning residents to avoid contact with wild animals after a rabid bat was found in the north part of the city last week.

A person who lives in the area of Hopkins Street and Sonoma Avenue found the bat sitting on a garden hose July 15, said Manuel Ramirez, a manager for the environmental health division of the city's Health and Human Services Department.

The resident put on protective gloves, captured the bat and brought it to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek where staff determined the bat was rabid, according to Ramirez. The bat was then "put down."

"It's not uncommon," Ramirez said. "We are notified of rabid bats typically at least once a year."

Alameda County has been designated a "rabies area" since 1958, he said.

Health officials went door to door through the neighborhood, cautioning residents about wildlife, Ramirez said.

He said residents should not touch or come in contact with wild animals and should alert animal control services if they spot animals acting strangely, such as a skunk or raccoon roaming or staggering during the daytime.

Rabies can cause coma or death, but immunization can prevent the infection and illness if given soon after the exposure, according to health officials.

Anyone who comes in contact with a suspicious animal is asked to call Berkeley Animal Control Services at (510) 981-6600.


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