FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Health officials Friday are reminding Fresno County residents about the dangers of interacting with bats that could have rabies.

County residents are urged to call the health department if they interact with a bat as they are known to carry rabies in Fresno County, said Michelle Rivera, Fresno County Department of Public Health spokeswoman.

“These flying mammals have been known to carry rabies in Fresno County. If you observe a dead or injured bat, leave the bat in place,” said Dr. Ken Bird, Fresno County Deputy Health Officer. Do not attempt to pick up or touch the bat.”

Rivera said health officials routinely test for and find rabid bats, especially during the summer months.

They suggest the following precautions if a bat – dead or alive – is found:

  • Avoid contact with bats and other wild animals
  • Do not touch the bat if possible
  • Bites or scratches from bats often go undetected. Direct contact with a bat, dead or alive, should be reported to your health care provider, whether or not an obvious injury is noted. Individuals awaking in a room with a live or dead bat should also notify their health care provider.

Health officials note that it is important to protect your pets by ensuring their rabies vaccinations are current.

More detailed precautions and information can be found on the Rabies and Animal Control website at www.fcdph.org/pets

Rivera said rabies remains a concern among wild mammals in Fresno County, especially among bats and skunks.

Any mammal can be infected with the rabies virus, bats are the most common animal in the county that carry rabies.

In 2018, 23 bats were tested and two of those were found to have the virus.

For more information about rabies visit http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/bats.html.