On March 3, the phrase “look what the cat dragged in” took on a whole new meaning for one Santee resident, whose pet cat brought home a dead bat. The cat’s owner promptly contacted the County to have the bat tested for rabies, and it did test positive.

“The owners did not have any direct contact with the bat, but they did put it in a container,” said Dr. Gundula Dunne, veterinary medical officer for the County of San Diego.

The Santee bat is the second rabid bat found so far this year in San Diego County. The first was discovered in Clairemont on February 20; it was found ill outside of a private residence.

“Bats with rabies are a constant presence within the county,” said Dunne. “Typically, four to ten rabid bats are discovered every year in San Diego County,” she added.

Dunne cautioned that residents who discover bats should not attempt to capture or handle them.

“Often, bats appear dead, and then when there is an attempt to pick up the bat, the bat will move and can possibly bite the person or fly away,” said Dunne. “If it is necessary to have the bat tested, a person can use a hard container like a coffee can or hard plastic container to put over the bat until local animal control can be contacted to pick up the bat.”

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