Rabid Bats Found Near Lake Merced

Categories: Animals, Health
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Happy Friday!
Yikes! San Francisco health officials found five bats with rabies in the Lake Merced neighborhood, and want you all to watch out.

The Department of Public Health and the Mayor's Office issued a written warning to residents last night, and papered the neighborhood with flyers alerting people about the latest crop of rabid bats.

Meanwhile, Tomás Aragón, health officer with the DPH, doled out some really great advice:

"Rabid bats are a serious concern, and all San Francisco residents should be aware that if they find a bat that appears dead, sick or unable to fly, do not touch or handle the bat," he said.

Anyone who has not been vaccinated for rabies (which comes from the Latin word for madness) is at risk for contracting the fatal disease. That goes for your dogs and cats, too.

Rabies, which destroys brain tissue, will probably kill you if left untreated; the incubation period can be weeks, months, or even years, officials said.

The DPH routinely conducts rabies testing on bats found in people's homes, or have been found outdoors and appear to be sick or dead. Since 2009, 133 bats have been tested for rabies in San Francisco and 12 percent have tested positive for the disease.

So now that you've been adequately alarmed, if you find a bat, please notify Animal Care and Control at 554-9400 so they can capture the animal for testing. Don't pick it up or pet it. And if you think you may have come into contact with a bat, please cancel your Friday night plans and call the DPH at 554-2830.

Now we'll end with some good news, which is that the rabies vaccine is safe and very effective, and there's not been a case of cat or dog with rabies in San Francisco for 60-plus years.

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