Teenage girl bit by rabid bat at Oakland Zoo


Zoo officials warn if you see a sick or injured animal stay away.

Officials say a bat bit the girl. A notice was handed out Tuesday afternoon by Alameda County Health officials. It says, "A bat infected with rabies was found in the neighborhood" and warns other rabid animals might still be nearby. It's a message residents are not taking lightly.

"By having a dog who actually wants to go up and investigate or play or chase away the animal, I just stay away," said Candice Elder of Oakland.

And that's exactly what experts want you to do.

"Rabies is fatal almost always," said Daniel Wilson from the Alameda County Environmental Health Department.

Alameda County Health officials issued the warning after learning a teen volunteer at the Oakland Zoo was bitten on Saturday. The bat is a Mexican free-tailed bat and after testing it, they found out the bat was infected with rabies, forcing them to place the victim on a round of medication immediately.

"If they see bats looking unusual, don't touch them, call us, get them picked up," said Wilson.

Experts say bats like to hang out pretty much anywhere bugs and insects live. This was the third rabid bat found in the East Bay in just over a month.

"If we didn't have them, our mosquito populations would soar," said Dr. Andrea Goodnight from the Oakland Zoo.

Zoo officials remind us that bats do serve a purpose to the ecosystem. The teen that was bitten made a big mistake by touching a sick animal -- a no-no for anyone not trained to do so.

"Generally, it's just like most wild animals. The bats are going to leave you alone, if you leave them alone," said Goodnight.

The volunteer is expected to make a full recovery.

Again, if you see a sick or injured animal, do not approach it. For more information on rabies and how to keep your family safe, check out the CDC's recommendations here.

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