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Bat handling at cafe leads to potential rabies exposure in Malibu

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warned people in the Los Angeles area about a potential rabies exposure at the Malibu Cafe after a bat was handled by a person or group of people, including children.

“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,” Muntu Davis, a Los Angeles County health officer, said in a statement. “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 the main source of rabies in the county, and 68 rabid bats were found last year in LA County, the highest number since testing began in 1961.

Officials warned that rabies affects the nervous system of people or animals that contract the virus. It can rapidly cause death due to respiratory failure, but initial symptoms include fever, weakness and headache. People can also feel tingling sensations, anxiety, agitation, hallucination, abnormal behavior, difficulty swallowing and coma. Animals with rabies may be timid or show aggression or signs of illness.

People who have come into contact with a bat should call their healthcare provider to be evaluated for rabies or report the exposure to 213-974-1234.

People without health insurance can contact Public Health for no-cost treatment.

Officials say people should not pick up or care for sick or dead bats, and if they see a dead or ill bat they should contact Public Health or their local animal control agency for removal.

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