A search is underway for a woman and, possibly, others, who may have been exposed to a rabid bat similar to this one at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Sunday, according to officials with the county's Health and Human Services Agency.
A bat was seen flying around the woman, who authorities have not yet identified, shortly before noon at the Mombasa Cooker restaurant in the park's Nairobi Village exhibit.
"We are concerned about the health of this woman and any park patrons who were in direct contact with the bat," said Dr. Eric McDonald, the medical director of the San Diego County Epidemiology and Immunization Services branch. "We want to make sure they were not potentially exposed to this deadly disease."
Authorities know the bat was rabid because a trained park employee managed to collect the bat, which testing confirmed was infected with rabies.
Authorities are urging anybody who knows the woman and at least one other guest who may have had contact with the bat to contact HHSA officials at (619) 692-8499.
At the same time, HHSA is letting people know that, if they were at the park on Sunday and had no contact with the bat, that they are not at risk for the painful and preventable disease which, if undetected, can be fatal. The onset of symptoms can take up to three months. A bite is not necessary to contract rabies; transmission can occur if the sick animal's saliva comes in contact with a victim's eyes, nose, mouth or open wound.
The bat was not part of the park's animal collection, officials said, and was not the first rabid bat to have been found. In fact, county officials have found four other infected bats just this year.