Veterinary Public Health


Pet Health Calendar
Contact Information
Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375
vet@ph.lacounty.gov
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Bats and Disease
The two most common diseases associated with bats in the United States are rabies and histoplasmosis.
Have an encounter with a bat in LA County?
Call Public Health for rabies exposure consultation 213-989-7060 8-5pm
after hours 213-240-7941 (Physician on Call)

  

Rabies is a fatal disease caused by the rabies virus. People can become infected when bitten by an infected bat, or when saliva of an infected bat comes in contact with the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Any bat that bites or has possible contact with a person or pet should be tested for rabies. Call your local animal control for assistance.
Click here pdf icon learn how to safely capture and contain the bat.

  

Bat bites are very small. Some bat bites cause only minor pain. A wound from a bat bite can easily go unnoticed. Therefore if there is the possibility of contact with a bat, a physician or the Department of Public Health should be consulted to evaluate the risk of rabies. Any suspected bite should be washed with soap and water immediately and prompt medical attention sought. If there is a possibility that your pet came in contact with a bat, a veterinarian or Veterinary Public Health should be consulted to evaluate the risk of rabies.

  

If a person was likely exposed to the rabies virus, symptoms can be prevented with a series of rabies vaccinations given in the upper arm over a few weeks, as well as rabies immune globulin (antibodies) given at the beginning of the treatment. This is called ‘rabies post-exposure prophylaxis’ or rabies PEP. Because rabies is such a serious disease, rabies PEP is needed after any bat bite unless the bat tests negative for rabies. If it is needed after a bat incident, rabies PEP should be started as soon as possible (i.e within 1-3 days). Symptoms of rabies from bats usually start 30-90 days after the bite. If symptoms occur, the disease is nearly always fatal. For additional information on rabies in people, click here.

 

If a pet was likely exposed to the rabies virus, they will be either quarantined for 30 days if vaccinated for rabies or for 6 months if not. Additionally, a series of rabies vaccines would be recommended to help prevent disease. Signs of rabies usually start 3-8 weeks after the bite. If signs of rabies occur, the disease is fatal.

  

Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. It can be anywhere there is a large amount of bat droppings (guano). People can become infected if they breathe in the fungal spores. Symptoms are similar to pneumonia (including trouble breathing and coughing) and should be treated early to avoid severe disease. The risk of contracting histoplasmosis from bat guano is no different from the risk associated with bird droppings. Professional services should be sought to clean up areas with large amounts of droppings.

 


What should I do if I find a bat in the house?
What if I see a bat outside?
 How can I get bats out of the attic?
Are you considering building a bat house?
Which disease do bats carry?
FAQ
 
Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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