Local News

Rabid bat discovered at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

County health officials are urging anyone who recently touched or held a live, wild bat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido to call the agency as soon as possible because the animal tested positive for rabies.

The bat was discovered near the Mombasa Island Pavilion on Friday and captured by a trained park employee. It was not part of the park’s animal exhibits. It is unclear whether the park was open to visitors at the time.

Park officials delivered the bat to the county health agency, where testing confirmed it had rabies.

Health officials are not aware of anyone touching or holding the bat, which would put them at risk of getting the disease. But the agency is alerting the public nonetheless.

“Human rabies is usually fatal without prompt post-exposure vaccine and treatment,” said Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “There has been no reported human or animal contact with this bat, but it was found in an area where many park visitors pass by, and we want to make sure that no one had contact with it.”

Anyone who had direct contact with the bat should call the agency immediately at (619) 692-8499. Park visitors who did not touch or hold the animal are not at risk.

One other rabid bat has been found in San Diego County so far this year, according to health officials. Rabies can be transmitted through a bat bite, or if the animal’s saliva contacts someone’s mouth, nose or eyes. It also can spread through saliva exposure to a cut or abrasion.

“People should always stay away from bats and other wild animals to prevent possible exposure to rabies,” said Wooten. “If you see a bat, dead or alive, don’t touch it.”