Rabies

LA County Warns of Possible Rabies Exposure After Adults and Children Touch Bat at Malibu Cafe

LA County's main source of rabies infections come from bats. Once symptoms start, it's too late, officials said.

Bat
Matthias Bein/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • It’s important to get preventative treatment after a possible rabies exposure because once symptoms start, like lockjaw, fever, weakness, and headache, that death from respiratory failure can quickly occur.
  • If preventative action does not begin before someone is symptomatic, they can die. It’s not clear if the cafe bat had rabies, since it is no longer available for testing.
  • If someone is infected and does not have health care coverage, the department said it would provide preventative treatment for free. 

Public health officials were warning anyone who touched a bat at Malibu Café at Calamigos Ranch to contact their doctors to report they may have been exposed to rabies.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the potential exposure happened Saturday, June 4 at the cafe. 

Officials said a couple of adults and possibly a group of children handled the bat. 

It’s important to get preventative treatment after a possible rabies exposure because once symptoms start, like lockjaw, fever, weakness, and headache, that death from respiratory failure can quickly occur.

If preventative action does not begin before someone is symptomatic, they can die. 

Rabies is not treatable, health officials warned, though it is preventable. 

It’s not clear if the bat had rabies, since it is no longer available for testing. However, officials said bats can carry rabies and transmit the disease via bites or saliva. 

The disease is progressive and attacks the nervous system in humans and animals. 

Rabies Symptoms

“Initial symptoms of rabies in people are fever, weakness, and headache, which progress to a tingling sensation, anxiety, agitation, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing, coma, and death,” the LA COunty Department of Public Health said. 

The department also warned that bats might not show any signs of having rabies, and in LA County rabies is most commonly found in bats.

Other animals often show signs of aggression when they have been infected, although some just might appear sick or seem more timid.

What to Do If Exposed to Rabies

Exposures should be reported to 213-974-1234.

If someone is infected and does not have health care coverage, the department said it would provide preventative treatment for free.

Anyone who may have touched a bat should contact their doctors.

Officials also said to never touch sick of dead bat they find.

Do You Get a Rabies Shot?

The Mayo Clinic says preventative treatment comes in the form of a fast-acting shot to stop the virus from infecting you as soon as possible after bite or exposure, near the site.

“At this time, we do not have any indication that this bat infected anyone with rabies. However, if untreated, rabies is nearly always fatal, so we want people to err on the side of caution,” Dr. Muntu Davis said. “Parents need to ask their children if they noticed or touched any bats while at the facility. If anyone suspects they or their child came into contact with any bat, they should immediately be evaluated for possible post-exposure rabies treatment.”

Bats are especially problematic, the department said, because their teeth are so sharp that a bite might go unnoticed. 

LA County Health also said bats have been the main source of rabies infections in the county. 

“In 2021, sixty-eight rabid bats were found in Los Angeles County. This is the highest recorded number of rabid bats found in LA County since testing of bats for rabies began in 1961. Ten rabid bats have been detected so far in 2022," the department said.

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