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Veterinary Public Health
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Veterinary Public Health

Pet Health Calendar
Contact Information
Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 989-7060
Tel: (877) 747-2243
Fax (213) 481-2375
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Animal/human contact to bats
Animal bites to humans
Wildlife bites to pets

Reporting forms




What is rabies?

  • It is a virus that causes diseases in both people and animals

  • Any mammal can get rabies - the list is long and includes:

    • Bats, dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes, foxes, cattle, horses, and many more

    • In Los Angeles County, the only known animals to routinely carry rabies are BATS

    • In other parts of California, the USA and the world, other animals can carry rabies

    • Click here to learn more about rabies cases in animals

  • Rabies is usually deadly if medical attention is not taken rapidly (post-exposure prophylaxis)


How is rabies transmitted to people/animals?

  • Rabies is almost always transmitted through a bite of an animal with the disease (rabid)

  • Click here to learn more about rabies transmission


What are symptoms of rabies?

  • Rabies affects the nervous system of infected animals and people

  • The disease is progressive and, once symptoms start, can rapidly cause death from respiratory failure

  • In people: initially fever, weakness, headache; progressing to tingling sensation, anxiety, agitation, abnormal behavior, hallucinations,  difficulty swallowing, coma, death

  • In animals: initially non-specific signs (vomiting, respiratory distress) progressing into neurologic signs - circling, difficulties walking, behavior change, aggression, paralysis, hydrophobia (fear of water), death


What is the treatment for rabies?

  • Once symptoms occur, there is no cure

  • After a bite from a suspected rabid animals, contact your physician immediately to receive Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

    • PEP is a series of rabies vaccinations along with an injection of antibodies - it is NOT given in the belly

    • If given as soon as possible after exposure to rabies, PEP can effectively prevent rabies from entering the nervous system

  • Pets that have been exposed to rabies (for example from a bite by a potentially rabid animal) must be quarantined whether they are vaccinated against rabies or not


What should I do to protect myself from rabies?

  • Never touch a bat with bare hands - call Animal Control if you find a bat in your house or on the ground

  • Seek medical care immediately if you are bitten by an animal - animal bites to people are reportable to our office

  • Keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccines

    • This includes older pets and indoor only cats (rabid bats have been found inside homes)

    • If bitten by wildlife, unvaccinated pets must be quarantined for 6 months - vaccinated pets must be quarantined for 30 days only




Rabies in bats has increased in the past few years in Los Angeles County. The reason behind this increase remains unknown. About 20% of bats tested locally have rabies but less than 1% of healthy bats are thought to carry rabies. 

 Rabies Map - 2016Small version of 2016 rabid bat map LA County
(click for larger image)
graph of rabid bats found in Los Angeles County 1961-2015
Previous rabies maps:
  2015 2013   2009
  2014  2012 2008
    2011 2007
    2010  2004-2013
2011-2015 rabid bats by month - graph




Data based on passive reporting. Reports of sick bats in public or private areas, or bat incidents involving people or animals, are made to local Animal Control agencies. Bats are then collected and tested for rabies.


Los Angeles County began testing bats for rabies in 1961. The data above includes rabid bats from Pasadena and Long Beach.




Rabies in California - California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Rabies page


Rabies in the US - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rabies page


For physicians - Los Angeles County Department of Public Health - Acute Communicable Disease Control Rabies page


Other useful information

History of rabies in Los Angeles County

Bats in Los Angeles County

Laws related to rabies pdf icon

CDC - Podcasts about rabies


Flyers and brochures

Rabies tales from Los Angeles County

Bats and Rabies (CDC)

Rabies (CDPH)

Last updated: March 25, 2016

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