On Monday May 28th, a bat found at Bramhall Park tested positive for rabies. Typically, the viral disease spreads through animal bites. It is possible, yet rare, for someone to get exposed to rabies through saliva or an open wound and that’s why Animal Control warns people and their pets to never touch a bat. It's almost always fatal if left untreated.
It important to note that bats are not responsible for rabies and just funding a bat does not indicate it is infected; because bats are nocturnal, finding them is very rare for most people hence the correlation. Finding bats in a cave, attic, or at dusk/dawn is perfectly normal and should not be a cause for alarm. Any animal behaving erratically should be considered suspect and you should contact animal services immediately.
One nocturnal animal routinely encountered by people, however, is generally considered safe. While any mammal can get rabies. the chance of rabies in an opossum is extremely rare. This is a result of the opossum’s low body temperature (94-97º F) making it difficult for the virus to survive in it's body.
Symptoms in an infected animal include unusual behaviour, aggressiveness, excessive drooling (can give the appearance of froth) and paralysis. A warning sign for rabies is when a wild animal becomes tame or a tame animal becomes wild, or if a night animal appears during the day. Symptoms in humans appear about 20 – 60 days after being bitten by a rabid animal. Deep or multiple bites, particularly to the head and neck, result in symptoms to appear sooner. An early symptom is tingling, pain or intense itchiness at the site of the bite, even when the wound has already healed. Other early symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and behavioural changes. If a person has been bitten by an animal with rabies, the disease can be prevented by an injection of rabies immune globulin and a course of vaccinations. However, this must preferably be given within 48 hours to be effective.
You can contact Animal Services at: (408) 794-PAWS (7297)
You can contact the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley at: (408) 929-9453