COLFAX (CBS13) – Health officials in Placer County have a warning for visitors at Auburn State Recreation Area: watch out for rabid bats!

Earlier this month, a visitor found a bat at the Mineral Bar Campground in Colfax. The visitor took the bat to animal control the next day, and it tested positive for rabies. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) says the bat may have come in contact with several children.

Heather Ireland knows just how easy it is to be exposed to a rabid bat.

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“It felt towards the floor and it hit my hand and as it hit my hand, it bit,” Ireland explained. “I didn’t feel a thing but it was that quick.”

The flexible creature had squeezed into her Placer County home through a small crevice. After the encounter, she called animal control.

“And a few hours later, it tested positive!” She recounted.

A trip to the emergency room and a shot later, Ireland was just fine.

“It was scary, it was really scary,” she said.

But if left untreated, rabies can infect the central nervous system and possibly lead to death.

Now California State Parks and the California Department of Public Health are warning visitors at Mineral Bar Campground: you can look but don’t touch.  Placer County Health Department advises anyone who may have touched the bat between Aug 1 and 3 to get immediate medical treatment.

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Ireland is used to seeing bats in her area but knows that people from out of town may not realize the danger that lies between their wings.

“They need to stay away from it themselves because it can happen that quick,” she said.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists surveyed the Mineral Bar Campground area and found no other sick animals. The campground remains open to the public.

A Look at the Numbers:

  • CDPH reported that 231 cases of rabies were reported in animals in California in 2017
  • Over 95% of rabies cases were in wildlife, chiefly in bats and skunks
  • Between 2003 and 2015, the CDC reported 38 human cases of rabies
  • 22 cases of those cases were acquired through contact with bats

California State Parks and CDPH recommends the following to reduce the risk of contracting rabies:

  • Do not approach or handle wild or unfamiliar animals.
  • Animals appearing sick or injured are far more likely to carry diseases.
  • Report any animal that is acting abnormally to park officials.
  • Keep pets confined or on a leash. Work with your veterinarian to keep pets current on their vaccinations.
  • If you are bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound with soap and water, and contact your doctor.
  • Report bites from wild or domestic animals to your local public health agency.