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L.A. County's First Rabid Skunk Since 1979 Infected with Strain from Mexican Bat

Bat-to-mammal transmission is not uncommon, says a health official.

A rabid skunk was found in Long Beach. Patch file photo.
A rabid skunk was found in Long Beach. Patch file photo.
The skunk found in Long Beach with the first confirmed case of rabies in a skunk in Los Angeles County since 1979 was infected with a strain of the virus from a Mexican free-tailed bat, city health officials announced today.

"Mexican free-tailed bats are common in Southern California, and are the species of bats that most commonly carry rabies in the state," said Dr. Mitchell Kushner, the city health officer in Long Beach.

"Bat-to-mammal transmission is not uncommon, and the rabid skunk likely had an encounter with a bat infected with rabies," he said, adding that this time of year when bat rabies is most prevalent, with a corresponding "spillover to terrestrial mammals."

According to Kushner, it was important to determine that the skunk was not infected with a skunk variant of rabies, which is noted in Northern California and not seen in Southern California since 1979.

--City News Service


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