FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEPress Release # CM: 070314
First rabid skunk to test positive in Los Angeles County since 1979 confirmed to be rabies variant carried by bats
The California Department of Public Health confirmed today that the
rabid skunk found last week in Long Beach was infected with a
rabies virus variant from the Mexican-free-tailed bat. While bats
in the area have tested positive for rabies in past years, this was
the first confirmed case of rabies in a skunk in Los Angeles County
since 1979. Mexican-free-tailed bats are very common in Southern
California, and are the species of bats that most commonly carry
rabies in the state.
Bat-to-mammal transmission is not uncommon, and the rabid skunk
likely had an encounter with a bat infected with rabies. "This is
the time of year that we might see more bat rabies, and potentially
spillover to terrestrial mammals," said City Health Officer Dr.
Mitchell Kushner. “We do not anticipate that this spillover
event is anything more than an isolated
The testing was important to determine that a skunk variant of
rabies, which is only noted in Northern California, has not been
re-introduced to Southern California where it has not been seen
Continued vigilance in testing wildlife that is ill or exhibiting
unusual behavior is still recommended. Anyone noticing obviously
ill wildlife or unusual symptoms by animals should contact Animal
Care Services at 562.570.7387. The Health Department and staff from
Animal Care Services remind residents that they should not try to
capture or trap wildlife, and that all domestic pets should receive
their scheduled rabies vaccine to prevent pets and humans from
getting rabies from other animals.
For more information on rabies, call Long Beach Animal Care
Services at 562.570.7387.