The Mexican free-tailed bat is one species of bat in Fresno County. Image via the Bureau of Land Management's Flickr account.
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Fresno County Department of Health issued guidance today on what to do if you come in contact with bats.
To avoid the deadly rabies virus, the Health Department wants anyone who comes in contact with the flying mammal to report the instance to the Environmental Health Division at 600-3357. Members of the division will then capture the bat for testing.
“These flying mammals have been known to carry rabies in Fresno County. If you observe a dead or injured bat, leave the bat in place. Do not attempt to pick up or touch the bat,” said Dr. Ken Bird, Fresno County Deputy Health Officer.
The Health Department warns that bites or scratches from bats can often go undetected. Any direct contact with a bat, whether dead or alive, should be reported to your health care provider. If not treated with a vaccine, rabies has an almost 100% fatality rate.
Pets are also at risk of contracting the disease. The Health Department suggests ensuring vaccinations are current.
While all mammals are susceptible to the virus, bats and skunks are the most common animals in Fresno County to carry the disease.
In 2019, the Health Department tested 63 bats, and of those, four have been found to be rabid. Historically, 20% of bats tested carry the disease, according to Wayne Fox, division manager of Fresno County Environmental Health.
In 2018, 23 bats were tested for the disease and two tested positive.
For more information, visit Centers for Disease Control.