Rabid bat discovered in San Francisco

January 10, 2008 7:53:58 AM PST
A bizarre discovery in San Francisco's Marina District over the weekend has prompted the Health Department to put out an urgent warning today. That discovery was a rabid bat found wrapped in a towel. That means someone - maybe several people have been exposed.

Rabies is fatal in humans. It's so rare to find a rabid bat in the San Francisco Marina District. There are messages, warnings posted throughout the neighborhood, but they can be easy to miss if you're jogging by. The overall message is if you or your pet came in contact with the bat, you need to get in touch with San Francisco health officials right away and get treated.

The bat was wrapped in a towel suggesting that somebody touched it. It was found on Saturday night but health officials just put out the warning yesterday. It can take two to 12 weeks before the symptoms surface and a vaccination right after exposure can prevent rabies. Once the symptoms appear, rabies is fatal. It's a viral infection of the nervous system. It's rare in humans, because pets are vaccinated against the disease.

The problem comes from wild mammals and most human cases involve bats. This is nothing to brush off; it needs to be taken seriously. It was found in a busy San Francisco neighborhood. There is a good chance some people came in contact with the bat.