Possible bat bites spur rabies treatments for Mendocino County visitors

At least seven Bay Area residents are getting rabies treatment after being exposed to bats at a private yoga retreat on Mendocino County's south coast, according to Mendocino County health officials.

Late last week, the people were staying in a cabin in the woods and had left the windows open overnight, said public health spokeswoman Cass Taaning. They reported bats had been flying in and out of the cabin during the night. The next day, some of them reported tiny wounds, possibly bat bites, she said.

Bat bites are small and difficult to see, so all of the people in the cabin were being treated as a precaution, Taaning said. None have been diagnosed with rabies.

She said she was not authorized to disclose where the incident occurred. The victims are being treated in the counties where they reside, not Mendocino County, she said.

Public health officials are continuing to investigate the incidents, she said. No local residents have reported being bitten, Taaning said.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and usually results in death if not immediately treated. It is spread to humans in the saliva of infected animals, generally through bites, scratches or contact with the eyes, mouth or nose.

Anyone exposed to rabies should seek immediate treatment. It includes four doses of rabies vaccine, one immediately, with additional doses on the third, seventh and 14 days following exposure.

Most rabies cases reported in the United States have occurred in skunks and bats, but cases in other wild animals also have been reported.

To prevent exposure to the disease, avoid contact with wild animals, especially ones that seem unusually tame, or nocturnal animals that are active in the daytime, health officials said. Windows that do not have screens should be closed at night to keep out bats, Taaning said.

Pets should be vaccinated because they may come into contact with rabid animals. They have been known to catch bats that are unable to fly because they are sick.

Cats are the most commonly reported rabid domestic animals in the United States, officials said.

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