“The student is not sick,” Riverside County Department of Public Health infectious diseases specialist Barbara Cole told City News Service. “We started the rabies post-exposure treatment very quickly. It’s designed to protect the person and keep them from becoming ill.”
The youth, whose name was not released, found the bat Wednesday afternoon in the high school gymnasium and suffered a “puncture wound” while handling the creature while other students watched close by, according to the San Jacinto Unified School District.
The student reported the incident and sought treatment soon after, according to Cole.
“We received the bat on Wednesday and had it tested for rabies yesterday,” she said. “The results were positive.”
According to Cole, rabies can be transferred without a bite or scratch, emphasizing that “transmission can occur through secretions.”
The rabies exposure protocol requires the victim to receive four vaccinations over a two-week span.
“The incubation period can be as short as 10 days,” Cole said. “You can’t wait for the person to become ill to start the treatment. The shots that are administered will prevent that.”
The exact number of students that may have come into contact with the bat has not been determined, and school district officials were alerting parents and staff to the potential exposure risk.
According to health officials, this is the fourth reported rabid bat exposure since early August in Riverside County. However, there have been no recorded cases of human rabies infection from bat bites in the county.
Anyone who finds a bat should contact the Department of Animal Services, or whichever animal control agency serves their area, for disposal assistance.
Concerns about possible rabies exposure should be directed to the county’s Disease Control Unit at (951) 358-5107.