On Tuesday afternoon, Fullerton College students gathered around the 400 building to take a peek at a wild bat that made its way onto campus. It still remains a mystery whether the bat got there by itself or with the help of a student.
Scooping the bat out of a shoebox with bare hands, at least one student was witnessed handling the bat, patting him on the head and even calling him his “pet.”
Orange County Animal Control was contacted and they seized the animal on site.
Upon further examination and according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, the bat was discovered to carry the deadly rabies virus.
Bats have small, needle-like teeth and can sometimes bite without the victim knowing they were bitten in the first place, often leaving no visible puncture wound or causing any noticeable pain.
Anyone that had contact with the animal is highly encouraged to seek immediate medical attention as even a single bite or scratch from an infected animal can cause death.
It is far more advisable to be safe rather than sorry.
Below are more helpful information on the rabies virus, some of which is obtained from Center for Disease Control and Prevention online.
Rabies infects the central nervous system in mammals. It ultimately causes disease in the brain which can result in brain inflammation, convulsions, paralysis and mania before leading to imminent death.
The incubation period for rabies, from the bite or scratch to the onset of symptoms, is usually four to eight weeks but sometimes varies.
Once one begins to exhibit signs of the more severe symptoms, it is usually too late for treatment as the disease has begun attacking the central nervous system.
Death usually occurs within a matter of days after onset of the more severe symptoms.
Rabies is transmitted through the saliva or soft tissues from mammals, typically from a bite or scratch. Other, more rare forms of transmission are when the saliva of the infected animal comes in contact with a mucus membrane, such as the eyes, nose and mouth.
Most cases are caused by exposure to rabid dogs.
Other wild animals commonly known to host the virus are raccoons, skunks, foxes, possums, coyotes and in this case, bats.
However, any warm-blooded animal can carry or transmit rabies, this includes your family cat or dog. You are highly advised to get them vaccinated at your local veterinary clinic for your safety and theirs.
The beginning signs of rabies are akin to that of the flu, fatigue, headache, fever, chills, lack of appetite, sore throat, vomiting or nausea.
Advanced symptoms include unwarranted anxiety, extreme agitation, hallucinations and excessive salivation
Survival is unheard of at this stage and death follows soon after.
What can I do to prevent rabies?
- Avoid all direct contact with wild animals, which includes handling and feeding. Observe them from a safe distance
- Prevent animals from entering your home by sealing noticeable cracks, covering window sills, and screening chimneys or vents
- If a wild animal is found in your home, avoid contact, seal off the area and call animal control immediately
- Vaccinate your household pets against rabies and keep their vaccinations up to date, especially if they are frequently outdoors
- Supervise your pets when outdoors and do not let them come in contact with a wild animal
- Refrain from leaving pet food outside overnight
- Report stray animal sightings to OC Animal Care
- Report all bites to OC Animal Care
- Immediately wash all animal bites thoroughly with soap and water before seeking immediate medical attention