As Bay Area residents gear up for Halloween festivities today, the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District is reminding the public that bats are not only a symbol of the spooky holiday, but can also carry rabies.
The reminder comes just weeks after Contra Costa Health Services announced that a 34-year-old county resident's death in July had been traced
back to his contact with a rabid bat in the southern part of the county in March.
An investigation revealed that the man had apparently contracted rabies after being bitten by the bat, which he and a friend spotted flopping around on the ground.
Three rabid bats have been found in Contra Costa County this year, and about 930 bats statewide have tested positive for the disease over the past six years, district officials said.
But bats, which generally shy away from humans, have less access to people than do skunks, California's second most common rabies carrier,
according to the districts. Skunks are attracted to food and garbage in residential areas.
"We regularly tell residents that skunks like to eat many of the same things we do, including fruit and nuts from trees and vegetables from
the garden," District Supervisor Jonathan Rehana said. "But they will also eat things we don't, including garbage and compost, so making a property skunk-free can take plenty of determination."
People are encouraged to avoid bats, skunks and any other wildlife that appears to be sick or acting strangely, and to report any wild-animal
bite to authorities immediately.
More information about rabies can be found at