A sickly bat that was found earlier this week on a Fremont street has tested positive for rabies, Alameda County Public Health Department officials announced Friday.
A resident first noticed the bat around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on Washington Boulevard, near Mission Boulevard, health officials said.
The resident then notified the county and the Alameda County Vector Control Services District retrieved the bat for testing.
The animal is 12th rabid bat discovered in the county this year alone. Last year, only two rabid bats were reported, one in Fremont and another in Pleasanton, health officials said.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that affects the brain and nervous system. The disease can be prevented if a person or animal who has been exposed to it receives a series of rabies vaccine shots immediately following exposure, according to health officials.
Rabies is spread through the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal, health officials said.
Most cases of rabies in humans in the U.S. are caused by contact with bats. Because of their small size, bat bites may appear to be invisible, if noticed at all, according to health officials.
If an infected human does not receive preventative vaccine shots, the person will usually develop symptoms within one to three weeks. Early symptoms include irritability, fever, headache and severe fatigue. Later symptoms involve difficulty walking, speaking or swallowing, as well as confusion, hallucinations, agitation or nerve pain, health officials said.
After one or two weeks of becoming sick, almost all patients become comatose and die, according to health officials.
Anyone who touched or may have been bitten by the rabid bat should contact the county’s health department at (510) 267-3250, in addition to seeing a healthcare provider.
If a person’s pet made contact with the bat, owners should call Fremont Animal Services at (510) 790-6630 or Fremont police at (510) 790-6800, in addition to taking their pet to a veterinarian.