SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com)   —   Orange County health officials are reporting that a live bat found Sunday in a parking lot in Huntington Beach tested positive for rabies.

The bat was found in the Big Lots shopping center at the corner of Warner Avenue and Golden West Street, authorities said.

Anyone who had recent contact with a bat in the vicinity is asked to call Orange County Health Care Agency Epidemiology at (714) 834-8180 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or (714) 834-7792 (after hours) so a nurse can evaluate the risk for rabies exposure.

Officials said once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal.

For that reason, preventive treatment to stop the rabies virus from causing illness is given to anyone who may have been exposed. Medical assistance should be obtained at once. This treatment is safe and effective.

The rabies virus is found in an animal’s saliva and is transmitted to people by a bite from a rabid animal; bats have very small teeth, and their bites could go unnoticed.

Although rare, contamination of the eyes, mouth or an open wound by the saliva of a rabid animal can also transmit rabies.

The Health Care Agency and O.C. Animal Care recommend the following preventive actions:

• Avoid all contact with wild animals
• Vaccinate all cats and dogs against rabies
• Do not sleep with open, unscreened windows or doors
• If bats are seen inside the house or other structure, close off the area and contact animal control. Once the bat(s) have been removed, close off any areas allowing entrance into the house.
• Do not leave pet food outside where it will attract wild animals.
• Immediately wash all animal bites with soap and water, being sure to flush the wound well, then contact your doctor
• Report all animal bites to O.C. Animal Care
• Report stray animals to O.C. Animal Care

To report a bat in your home, an animal bite or a stray animal, contact O.C. Animal Care at (714) 935-6848.

For more information about rabies, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website by clicking here.

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