Health officials search for man exposed to rabid bat

Public health officials in Nevada and California are searching for a man who may have been exposed to rabies during an April 30 visit to Mojave National Preserve, 90 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

The man was visiting Kelso Depot at the preserve when a little brown bat landed on his shirt outside the bookstore.

The bat had been flying around erratically during the daytime with no apparent fear of people. The animal tested positive for rabies, said Stacey Davis, epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health in San Bernardino County, Calif.

Health officials don’t know the man’s name or where he is from, but they think he may have been on his way to Las Vegas. He is described as a middle-aged white man, possibly with a British accent.

Officials want to talk to the man to determine if he was exposed and start him on treatments.

“We don’t mess around with rabies,” Davis said. “It’s generally considered universally fatal.”

Symptoms can develop in a few days or several years after exposure, she said. Once severe symptoms start, there is very little doctors can do.

The man is urged to contact the Communicable Disease Section of the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health at 800-722-4794 or, after business hours or on weekends, 909-356-3805.

San Bernardino County has confirmed two rabid bats so far in 2013.

Some signs of rabies in animals are changes in behavior, general sickness, problems swallowing or increased drooling and aggression.

Animals with rabies may act differently from healthy ones. Wild animals may move slowly or act as if they are tame. A pet that is usually friendly may snap at you or try to bite.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.